The Edmonton Oilers have signed two restricted free agents, Alex Plante and Chris VandeVelde. Both are restricted and likely to be OKC Barons in 12-13.
Going all the way back to the 2007 Entry draft, the issue for Plante has been skating. He’s a big defender, tough as nails and willing to drop the gloves. However, Edmonton has Andy Sutton, Theo Peckham in the NHL and another first rounder (Colten Teubert) in the AHL who can fill that role. Sutton is more experienced, Peckham and Teubert more mobile. Plante is aware of the problem but works hard at it:
- Plante: “I’ve got to stay on the ice because if I get off, I obviously turn into Bambi. It’s actually kind of funny. It’s honestly like I forget how to skate. I’m going to take my week and a half, two weeks or whatever and I’m going to try to get right back on the ice.”
Plante was +16 and coach Todd Nelson showed confidence in him. Despite not being an offensive dynamo he did show well at even scoring compared to the Barons group:
OKC BARONS EVEN STRENGTH SCORING—DEFENSE BY POINT PER GAME
|NAME||GP||EV G||EV A||EV PTS||EV/G|
VandeVelde’s signing is no surprise. Edmonton likes the big center; it is unlikely he’ll ever have enough of a bat to play as an NHL regular. VV’s even strength AHL totals (68, 5-13-18) were the worst among OKC regular centers.
Having said that, VV is a player coach Nelson relied on and there is still a small window (Belanger looks on the outs, Lander is unready) of opportunity. I think he slightly improved his NHL chances in 11-12.
Plante has to clear waivers this fall, and VandeVelde has one more year of eligibility.