Kyle Platzer came to the Oilers by way of a pair of draft day trades in 2013 when General Manager Craig MacTavish twice traded down, exchanging one pick for three both times. Platzer was one of the five players the Oilers acquired with these trades; the Oilers selected the then London Knight with the 96th overall selection.
In his draft year Platzer had played 65 games, scoring 5 goals and adding another 17 assists, and he was listed at 5'11" and 176 lbs. To say that Platzer was a long term project would be understating things. He hadn't demonstrated much of a scoring touch and he was on the small side, not a great combination for any player. At the time it wasn't easy to see the player that the Oilers were envisioning when they selected him. And his rankings in our Top 25 reflected that; before this edition of the Top 25 Under 25 Platzer had never ranked higher than 30th.
But what a difference a season can make. After ranking him 38th a year ago, Platzer now has seven of ten voters placing him inside the Top 25, and the other three have him right on the bubble. So what happened? No, he didn't growth three inches, instead scoring touch finally came around. In his final OHL season, Platzer led the Owen Sound Attack - he was traded to Owen Sound from London partway through the 2013/14 season - with 81 points, 34 goals and 47 assists; he scored five more points in the Attack's first round loss to the Guelph Storm.
The table below presents Platzer's season-by-season scoring totals. All numbers comes from hockeydb.com and, with the exception of penalty minutes and plus/minus, include regular season and post season play.
|2012-13 - Draft||London||86||7||21||28||0.33||15||7|
|2013-14 - Draft+1||London/Owen Sound||71||23||16||39||0.55||26||-14|
|2014-15 - Draft+2||Owen Sound Attack||73||35||51||86||1.18||46||13|
That's quite the jump in his Draft+2 season, with a points per game average more than double what it was the year before. It's always nice to see a player put up points, but a jump like that has to make you wonder whether it's the real thing or an anomaly. And with junior players it can be even harder to figure out because we have less data to work with and age can often times be a significant factor as well. In Platzer's case it would foolish to ignore his age, his being older than most of the players in the OHL is something that almost certainly helped him produce at the rate he did last season, but if we go back a couple years we can see that the jump might be deceiving.
In his draft season Platzer played for the London Knights, a team that would go on to play in the Memorial Cup as the OHL champions after winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup. Obviously they were a good hockey team. That season Platzer was 10th among Knights forwards in scoring, ahead of him were five players who had already been drafted, two who had been passed over in the draft the year before, and two who would be drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft - Max Domi and Bo Horvat. On this team, Platzer was a depth player, and depth players are going to have limited opportunities to put up points.
In his Draft+1 season the story was much the same, Platzer was just too far down the Knights' depth chart to put up any real counting numbers. It wasn't until he was traded to Owen Sound that Platzer really got a chance to show what he could do. And if you split up his 2013/14 you'll see what I mean; in 39 games with London, Platzer averaged 0.43 points per game, with the Attack he averaged 0.70 in 29 games. Had he scored at that pace for all of his Draft+1 season Platzer's Draft+2 season suddenly wouldn't look quite so out of place. With numbers like that it's possible that he might not have cracked the Top 25 proper, but it's a safe bet that he would have likely been ranked just a few spots higher than 38th.
Now as Platzer gets ready to start his first full season as a pro (he played in seven games with the Oklahoma City Barons last season after signing an entry level deal with the Oilers) he once again finds himself in a situation where his place on the depth chart is less than ideal. In a recent look at the Condors' possible roster options Jonathan Willis had this to say about the centre position:
Centre is tough, too, particularly with the addition of 25-year-old Phil McRae. A second round pick in the 2008 Draft, McRae has evolved into a middle-six AHL centre. He shouldn’t be a threat to Draisaitl and Bogdan Yakimov likely scored enough as a rookie to hold him off, but he makes life far more complicated for rookie pro Kyle Platzer and offensively-challenged Jujhar Khaira. Add in 21-year-old Alexis Loiseau (96 points in the QMJHL last year) and 2013 second-rounder Marco Roy and there are seven legitimate candidates for minutes down the middle.
It took a couple of years but Platzer finally showed us all that he's got some offensive skill, and now that he's turned pro, whether or not he gets the chance to continue to show off those skills is up in the air. He's got some significant names ahead of him on the Condors' depth chart, but he persevered before so I think he's worth betting on now.