The Edmonton Oilers have called Alex Plante back to the show and have sent both Richard Petiot and Martin Gerber back to Oklahoma City. Gerber getting sent back down means that Nikolai Khabibulin is at least healthy enough to ride pine. Under normal circumstances, Khabibulin may well have been sent to Oklahoma for conditioning, but since the Oilers are trying to lose games and the Barons are trying to win them, it makes good sense for the organization to send the better goalie down (even if it stinks for Gerber). We'll look at the defenders after the jump.
As for Petiot, well, we won't likely be seeing him again. In Lisa's interview with Petiot, he mentioned consistency, intensity, and physicality as some of the things he needs to work on. For me - and admittedly this is mostly based on just the two games - Petiot seemed just fine so long as he had plenty of time, but had trouble reading the play quickly enough and was too slow to make up for that shortcoming. I can see why he's effective in the AHL, but he's not an NHL defender today, and at twenty-eight, it's pretty clear that he's not going to be a part of the Oilers plans.
Alex Plante, on the other hand, just might be. When Bruce interviewed Plante, the player seemed to feel like he was close to the NHL, and said so in a way that didn't come as cocky:
The coaching staff here has been very patient with me and have given me a lot of opportunities, and I feel like it's coming; I'm starting to progress to where I need to be. I don't want to be a player that goes up real quick and might not be quite ready and then gets sent down again and is completely forgotten about. I want to make sure that when I'm ready, I'm ready. I'm pretty sure that's the same mindset the Oilers have. I have a feeling that we're on the same page and I want to work as hard as I can to eventually get there.
I had Plante inside the top ten in my own Top 25 rankings, but over the last couple of months, it seemed like there was a growing body of evidence that he might not make it. He had been a healthy scratch a few times this season; he wasn't taking on tough competition; when Penner was moved, the return included another physical right-handed defender because, according to Steve Tambellini, there wasn't much of that in the organization; and finally, when the team needed defenders this year, they called on Shawn Belle, or Jeff Petry, or Taylor Chorney, or even Richard Petiot, but not Plante. Today, that changes. Today, Alex Plante gets his chance, and if he looks as good as he did in a brief four-game stint last season, I think Alex Plante might just be right. He might be here to stay.