OVERCOMING SLOW PLANTE GROWTH

2011-12 was the best season in Alex Plante’s short pro hockey career. A strong season in OKC, an appearance in the AHL All-Star game, a cup of coffee in the NHL and a much brighter career outlook–even with the concussion worries.

The AHL All-Star appearance is a pretty big deal–it’s a rare item for Oilers prospects, the most famous one in recent history came about a decade ago with Doug Lynch–and it proves that Plante belongs in the best minor league on the planet. How good was his season? After a slow start and the unlikely recall, Plante settled down and had a fine season.

OKC BARONS EVEN STRENGTH SCORING—DEFENSE BY POINT PER GAME

NAME

GP

EV G

EV A

EV PTS

EV/G

TAYLOR CHORNEY

50

5

13

18

.360

ALEX PLANTE

41

0

11

11

.268

COLTEN TEUBERT

46

2

7

9

.196

DYLAN YEO

48

4

4

8

.167

BRYAN HELMER

69

1

10

11

.159

KEVIN MONTGOMERY

48

1

6

7

.146

What’s more, his +16 led all blueliners and coach Todd Nelson clearly showed a great deal of confidence in his play. In an article yesterday in the Oklahoman, Ryan Aber had a fine article on the Barons and specifically Plante. There are two quotes I want to pass along from the article:

  • Plante: “I did put my work in last summer, and I’m really pleased with how the coaches recognized it here and gave me an opportunity for me to get going. It really helped my confidence to make that next step in my career, not be scared to make little mistakes and just kind of figure out the defensive zone, where I need to be … everything kind of snowballed from there.”

Three things: first, Plante had an improved season one year ago but he needed work and he knew it. Plante came into this season motivated; the results are sewn into the story of his season: the callup, the all-star appearance, the post-season and the overwhelming positive vibe: he’s back in the mix as a legit prospect..Second, Todd Nelson. No matter what happens in regard to the Oilers coaching situation, Nelson is building a strong resume for some NHL team. He’s an excellent hockey coach and should get an NHL shot. Finally, Steve Tambellini. Credit where due, it’s been years since the minor league team saw this kind of growth in once season from so many players.

SKATING

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’s quote in the article suggests new maturity and a recognition of the things he’ll need to do in order to make it to the next level:

  • 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.”

That’s a terrific quote. As an old timey Oiler fan, I can actually give you names (but won’t) of Oiler prospects who have failed to deal with their weaknesses and displayed a sense of entitlement even in the face of possible banishment to the hinterlands. Plante’s weakness would be exacerbated by lollygagging through Europe all summer instead of putting in more work.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

There are two main things we can learn from Mr. Aber’s story. Todd Nelson has had an enormous impact on this organization’s minor league players. From Magnus Paajarvi being eager to get to OKC through Plante’s willingness to cut short his summer, this is welcome news for an organization that didn’t have their own AHL team not so long ago. Plus the same lessons learned last spring and applied in the fall by Plante will be passed along to Tyler Pitlick and others this spring.

The other item is this: is it reasonable to suggest that the Deslauriers, the Schremp’s, the Pouliot’s would have developed better if the Oilers had spent the same amount of time, money and care for the farm they are displaying now?

I think the answer is–at least a little bit–yes.

  • eastcoastoil

    Alan,
    If the cupboards are so deep with d-men when would one of them be turning into a legit top-4. If we are not true contenders this year is there any reason to sign a top-4 this summer to a multi-year deal?
    Is Klefbom going to need to play in the AHL before he plays in the NHL

  • eastcoastoil

    Big key there. Spend time to develop the players. It’s like a GIC — every time you take an investment out, there should be one maturing and nother put in. Would save a lot of the roller coaster rides for depth development.

  • eastcoastoil

    Is Plante equal to Potter. If he is then I would take Plante because he ismore willing to engage physically. Andy Sutton will be a 40-50 guy. Add Peckham 40-50 games. Depending on what the Oilers do at the draft and on July 1st then I see a need for some thoughtful analysis from Tambo who he wants in his bottom pairing moving foward.

    With Renny’s departure. Assuming Sutter is hires. What are the odds that Potter remains with the Oilers?

  • Great to hear that kind of motivation and dedication coming from prospects. I hope he has great off-season training.
    We can only hope that Pajaarvi, Pitlick, etc can learn from the example.

    Thanks for posting the link to that article, LT. Some great quotes in there.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Another one of those guys DSF was referring to.

    5 yrs into developing this kid and he’ll be a marginal NHL defenceman at best. Someone’s going to get smokin deal on a UFA eligible d’man in the next summer or two, hopefully it’s not our Oilers.

  • Dear Mr. Lowetide,

    I represent Mr. Gene Principe. A concerned citizen contacted Mr. Principe this morning drawing his attention to your use of a pun regarding an Edmonton Oiler that was so bad that it was almost criminal in nature.

    Mr. Principe has held the trademark on nearly criminal puns regarding the Edmonton Oilers since 2009 when he declared Robbie Schremp as being ‘dead in the water’ while holding two Shrimp on a plate.

    Mr. Principe finds your tradmark infringement as being not ‘punny’ and insists that that you cease and desist or you will find yourself buried in sand to the neck wishing that it was always Low-Tide time.

    We don’t really understand what Mr. Principe is saying and to be honest, we just hate having the guy come around our office. I seriously considered killing him with my stapler last time he was here.

    So, please, for our sake – leave the puns to Gene.

    Regards,
    Bob ‘Bookie’ Loblaw, LLB

  • John Chambers

    Hmm, if we trade down to draft a D we might literally have too many NHL capable defensemen in about 3 years. Not a bad problem, but perhaps a warning against giving a marginal UFA like Wideman a deal longer than 4 years.

  • I would respectfully suggest the Oilers WERE an AHL team during those years and at some level continue to be. The horrendous choices the Oilers made during past drafts are the reason they have fallen so far behind other organzations. I always had the impression Lowe and Prenderfella were trying to show how much smarter they were than everyone else. Commentators from the televised drafts were in constant amazement at the Oilers selections and so was I.

    The question is will they revert to that solid record of incompetent drafting by ‘going off the board’ once again?

    The only reason Plante hasn’t been sent packing is he was a first round pick against all logic and as we all know bosses don’t like to admit their mistakes. The guy has been drafted since 2007 and his progress has been miniscule to say the least.

  • Reg Dunlop

    To all you Plante haters, listen up.

    When the NHL decides to cut the size of rinks in half to add more seats, and a goliath like Alex can reach halfway across the blueline, he will be a perennial Norris candidate even if he is just a step above an ankler(ie he can’t skate very good). If the league doesn’t go to mini-mite ice, I guess the pick was a waste.

  • D

    Shouldn’t the coaching staff and trainers provide tailored advice to every player in the organization (whether they’re in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, juniors, Europe, whether they’re a veteran or a prospect) on what they need to work on during the summer? I just assumed this is already happening, but something about this article makes me think that Plante is more the exception than the rule, and that needs to change.