Alex Plante had a very good season in 2009-10. His first year pro saw exceptional growth in-season, as the coaching staff in Springfield moved him up the depth chart and he eventually found his way to the NHL for his first look at hockey’s elite league.
The first half of his AHL season (39gp, 1-5-6 -12) was typical of the nightmare numbers posted by all minor league prospects in the first half (except for Peckham: 20gp, 0-6-6 +1); the 10 games after the midway point (1-2-3 +1) were something to build on. The callup was icing on the cake.
•Boxcars: 49gp, 2-7-9 (all numbers AHL)
•Plus Minus: -11
•Cap Hit: $1,075,000
- What do these numbers tell us? Plante had a couple of solid offensive seasons in junior but it is unlikely to follow him to the NHL. It looks like he was involved in about 10 fights in Springfield as well. He looked excellent, very composed, in a 4 game callup to the Oilers (0-1-1 +1) and might get a longer look from the big league coaching staff this fall based on that sample.
- How could these numbers be better? Plante was a new pro and showed improvement after the midway point of his first season. That’s a major positive. The only real negative is that he was injured again (concussion) and the list of injuries for Plante is already long and winding.
- How many injuries? Fall 2007 was a lost season, as he suffered a back injury at Oilers rookie camp and a concussion later on. Those two injuries (and the second concussion) should be viewed as major concerns. Defensemen are always taking punishment and many times it ruins a career. Just ask Selmar Odelein, Nick Stadjuhar or Doug Lynch. It is a big concern with this player.
- What kind of evidence can you offer in terms of his AHL development? Rob Daum: “Defense is the toughest position to learn, and even though Alex has had his ups and downs he is progressing nicely. He has a high competitive level and he loves to compete. Even though he’s a young guy in a man’s league he hasn’t taken a backward step.”
- How big is he? 6.04, 225 and he can intimidate. Plante isn’t a big time hitter but can rattle the boards with big hits. I think his calling card will be steady defensive play (eventually) and overall toughness. He’s made progress at the pro level at 20 years old. That won’t show up in the boxcars but it makes a big difference in the red zone.
- Anything else? We really need to give his excellent progress a major arrow. Plante’s scouting reports always mentioned things like “raw talent” and “project” right through his junior career. On top of that, he lost a season to injury after his draft day. But the young man had a solid final year in junior and then followed it up with the most impressive first year pro in the organization. If he doesn’t suffer a Doug Lynch-type career altering injury, Plante could be one of those defensemen that come through the system and play for years (the Matt Greene-Geoff Smith family).
- How important is he to the organization? He’s part of a group that is extremely important to the Oilers future. Plante is in a group of young defensemen that includes Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Johan Motin and Kyle Bigos: draft picks who are over 20 years old, still developing, and looking at a major opportunity moving forward because the team lacks established blue in their early to mid 20′s (Smid, with Gilbert and Whitney already being paid in full) who are also able to provide production that exceed their salaries.
Plante can be a big part of the fuure if he can stay healthy