It may have been a footnote for most on a day where the Oilers announced that Taylor Hall has been lost for the remainder of the season, but Oiler prospect Alex Plante got some very good news in the form of a recall to the big club.
It hasn’t really been a banner week for Plante, though not because of his own efforts. The NHL trade deadline saw the Oilers ship out one defenceman – Shawn Belle, who had recently been a healthy scratch thanks to his status as an AHL veteran (and the demotion of Zach Stortini), but add two others. Kevin Montgomery is having a decent AHL season and is young enough to be considered a legitimate prospect, while Colten Teubert entered the Oilers’ system with many of the same qualities as Plante but with the advantage of being both a year younger and having a greater reputation for nastiness. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Oilers recalled veteran Richard Petiot over Plante when they needed a body to plug in on the back end.
With today’s recall, Plante becomes the third of the Oilers top three young AHL defencemen (Jeff Petry and Taylor Chorney are the other two) to get a shot at the NHL level this season. If he can keep his head above water and play a reliable game, it will go a long ways toward enhancing his status with the organization. If he can add a physical element, so much the better.
How does Plante compare to the other options the Oilers had? Here are the February numbers for some of the other players the Oilers might have brought up:
- Colten Teubert: 10GP – 1G – 4A – 5PTS, plus-5
- Jeff Petry: 6GP – 0G – 3A – 3PTS, plus-3
- Kevin Montgomery: 9GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS, minus-5
- Alex Plante: 10GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, even
- Richard Petiot: 10GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, minus-2
Teubert looks like the best of the lot by February’s counting numbers, although it’s worth remembering that he doubled his season’s offensive totals that month. I’d guess neither him nor Montgomery were given real consideration for this call-up; I know if I were running the Oilers I would want them to have a chance to settle in with Oklahoma before giving them NHL minutes. Petiot did get a chance to play a game last night, and of course Jeff Petry’s already had an extended NHL audition.
Martin Gerber’s back to the AHL, which presumably means that Nikolai Khabibulin is pretty much ready to return. Gerber’s been close to perfect in his three NHL games this season, and perhaps that in combination with his strong AHL work will get him a shot at a back-up job somewhere next season. Whether it does or not, he’s been vital for the Barons, where his 0.917 SV% towers over that of Jeff Deslauriers, who is still struggling to reach the 0.900 mark.
I want to link to two other articles on Plante that are well worth the time to read. The first is an interview Plante did with the Cult of Hockey, which is informative about a lot of individual items but particularly about Plante’s concussion troubles. The second is Scott Reynold’s work on measuring AHL quality of competition, which is both highly useful and incredibly time-consuming: it tells us that Plante perhaps wasn’t playing the toughest opponents in Oklahoma.