This is David Vyborny. The Oilers drafted him in 1993, 33rd overall. He came over to North America at age 19, spending a season in the American Hockey League. In that season he went 23-38-61 in 76 games, which is pretty damn good for a teenage in that league. But the Oilers had other options–in the AHL there was 20-year old Ralph Intranuovo (105 points in 65 games), Jozef Cierny (28 goals at age 20), Todd Marchant (22 goals in 38 games), Miro Satan (24 goals in 25 games at age 19) and they had some other guys too plus the Oilers were about to draft a forward (Jason Arnott) who would step right into the show.
Vyborny was a good player, but he was smaller (5.10, 182) and he wasn’t an EV monster (he was -12, Marchant was +8, Satan +6) and he got buried in the system. Eventually, he signed as a free agent with Columbus in June 2000 (just a couple of weeks before the Alexei Mikhnov era began in Edmonton).
I think Vyborny’s situation then is somewhat similar to Linus Omark’s situation now. He has talent, but does he have more talent that Gagner, Cogliano and O’Sullivan? How many players of this type will the Oilers employ next season? Surely not so many that Linus Omark would be a shoo-in for the roster.
The exact opposite should be true for Alexandre Plante. We shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking he’s an offensive type defender (that Hitmen roster was stacked), but he does have size and a physical element to his game. The Oilers organization has plenty of skill blue bubbling under (Chorney, Wild, etc) but are shy on young men who can play a physical style (Smid and Peckham).
If you tour around the Al Gore tonight there are plenty of reports that the Oilers blew it with Omark (he signed in Russia) and that Alex Plante hasn’t heard from the Oilers about a contract. Logic and common sense tell us that the Oilers will sign Plante (if they don’t sign him Edmonton gets a compensatory pick–I believe #45–in the second round) and decide on where to play him at training camp. There will be 4 options-Edmonton (extremely unlikely), Springfield (possible), Stockton (very possible) or Calgary (WHL–also possible).
What isn’t reasonable? Not signing Plante. For an organization that has decreed that grit and size are offseason priorities, allowing him to fold back into the draft tells us they don’t know what they’re doing. This is an easy bar to clear.