Deer in the headlights? Alex Plante has been sent to the Oilers. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.
Plante, a 6-4, 230-pounder from Brandon, Manitoba has played in all eight of the Barons games this season recording one assist and a team-high 35 penalty minutes. The Oilers 1st round draft choice (15th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft has appeared in seven NHL games over the past two seasons, recording one assist and serving 11 penalty minutes.
Plante joins fellow rearguard Jeff Petry as Barons players currently recalled by the Oilers. He is meeting the team in Edmonton in advance of the Oilers game tonight against the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m.
After recalling Jeff Petry from the farm on Friday, the Oilers placed Plante on the NHL roster prior to a lengthy road swing.
Plante, the prospect who still remains a prospect, has had a rough season out of the gate in Oklahoma City. Of the above 35 penalty minutes, 15 were terrible fighting majors. However, his ineptitude is the two minor roughing penalties and such that happen at the worst moments. Whether it's in the waning minutes or immediately evening a man advantage, he continues to be mistake-prone. His strength is in his skates, and that's a bonus. Everything else leaves much more to be desired.
In his defense, he's playing a limited role on the PK and virtually no time on the PP. Even in the minors, he's moved to a third defensive pairing (Tulupov, Motin, etc.) while the rest of the defenders pass him by. Puck moving is what sells these days, and Plante isn't dealing.
The gap between Jeff Petry, who's NHL ready, and Alex Plante, who has me thinking Cam Abney might be a better Baron at this point, is monumental. Petry heads down after starting the season in Edmonton, enters an already steady lineup, and immediately makes a difference. Mainly in his puck handling and distributions, Petry is a man among boys at this point (Helmer excluded). What can I say about him other than this: the longer he stays on the farm the more he peaks the interest of teams needing defensive puck movers (excluding Edmonton).
Yet what choice did the Oilers have? With Andy Sutton's suspension hearing on Monday morning, running with a defender who knows the Oilers scheme and has the experience (even minute) seems like a logical choice. You could have charged Colten Teubert with the task, but he's the new Shawn Belle - decent in the minors, but no where near full-time NHL ready (and may never be). And at this point, the Oilers aren't willing to take a gamble on a player that really will only see limited action on the upcoming road-trip and through the remainder of the Sutton suspension.
The positives in this scenario are that players like Johan Motin and Kirill Tulupov will get more nurturing in the Barons lineup on a more consistent basis. Both have been solid players, and continue to impress when on the ice.