Future Watch: Alex Plante
21-year-old Plante sees opportunity in the Barons' post-season quest
Alex Plante skates with the Oklahoma City Barons during the 2010-11 season (Photo by Steven Christy / OKC Barons).
Although his 2009-10 campaign with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons was a successful one from a personal standpoint, the new season in Oklahoma City provided an opportunity to continue his personal rise in a brand new, untouched and ready-to-succeed environment.
"It’s been unbelievable," said a smiling Plante. "The city is great. We have a good group of guys here, too. To be part of a winning atmosphere certainly helps, but having that fresh start is a big positive. Everyone came into the season believing that the team could compete. Now we’re ready to show everyone that we will."
With his new home Oklahoma City, the past memories of a disappointing ride in Springfield are now distant in the rearview mirror.
Plante accumulated two goals and nine points in his 49 games with the Falcons last season. His minus-11 rating was another stone in the wall of a disappointing end-result in Springfield, with the Falcons missing out on the post-season party for a seventh consecutive campaign.
It was an experience that Plante believes was a valuable lesson moving forward.
"Despite having a tough season, last year was a good learning experience," he said. "I had never been part of a team that was unable to make the playoffs."
"But you never really want to be a part of that. You want to learn how to win. Everyone in our locker room is competitive and they want to win. That’s what makes this room so special. It’s an exciting time of year for sure."
In Plante’s two seasons as a professional, the bulk of his ice-time has been spent on the farm, keenly developing his craft as an intimidating force on the blueline. His upward development curve has been noticed in Edmonton, as the 6’4" 225 pound rearguard has earned two separate call-ups to make his mark with an early impression.
"It was unbelievable up there," Plante said. "I want to keep striving towards that. Once you get a taste, you want to experience that all the time. I want to better round out my game and try to earn a full-time spot. I think I’m getting closer each day, too. Having the opportunity to play in the post-season certainly helps in a big way."
All things considered, Plante’s callback audition brought him one step closer to the NHL silver screen.
"They want me to play simple," Plante explained. "When I was up there earlier in the year, I was probably trying to do a little bit too much. I wanted to be there, I wanted to show them I wanted to be there. I got away from my game and from the things that make me successful. That was another learning experience. It was only my second call-up, so I'm trying to learn from everything."
"When I'm at my best, my game shouldn't change in the minors or whether I'm playing up top in the NHL. I think at the end of the day, I was able to show them that I’ve been improving. I need to make sure that continues. I’m hungry for that spot."
Rounding out his game has been an ongoing process; a natural development curve that many up-and-coming prospects face early on. Edmonton’s philosophical change as an organization has meant that players with size and toughness will be highlighted. Securing a future spot in the Oilers lineup may come sooner, rather than later.
That decision, naturally, is now on Plante’s shoulders. Having produced two goals and 17 points in 73 games this season with the Barons, his all-encompassing game has provided a new look with balance and stability featuring an updated resume.
"I feel that I can provide whatever role the coaches want me to. I play at my best when I'm taking care of my own zone, getting that first pass out quick, and shutting other teams' best players down. Not just by running around and hitting guys, but by making sure they don't get too many opportunities."
"Footwork is still a bit of an issue," Plante agreed. "But I’m constantly working on improving that area of my game. It’s getting better all the time."
Although Plante recognizes which areas are most in need of improvement, setting short-term goals has helped him remain focused on the Barons’ upcoming post-season march.
"There are so many different variables that can be changed, with trades, injuries and so on. I try not to get too far ahead, so I set day-by-day or week-by-week goals. That way I still target on which areas I need to improve, but don’t lose focus on my responsibilities to the team."
It’s that drive, focus and determination to succeed that has helped Plante establish his role as a physical, stay-at-home rearguard for the Barons this season. With opportunity growing and the Oilers organization watching intently, the post-season matchup with the Hamilton Bulldogs will, once again, provide the grand stage to impress his bosses and fellow coworkers.
"As a team, we're really looking forward to the post-season run. It's just nice to be in a winning atmosphere right now we're really looking forward to this. It’s so exciting."
Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com
2010-11 OILERS PROSPECT STATS (REGULAR SEASON)
|19||60||7||13||20||-3||72||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)|
|22||26||11||11||22||+7||4||OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS (AHL)|
|20||60||7||16||23||+7||8||Oklahoma city barons (AHL)|
|18||68||13||30||43||+9||78||kootenay ice (WHL)|
|23||36||13||22||32||N/A||26||university of maine (h-east)|
|26||43||13||9||22||+2||98||stockton thunder (echl)|
|29||70||32||46||78||+1||63||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||62||26||56||82||+48||22||saskatoon blades (whl)|
|20||66||17||25||42||-1||27||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|20||38||8||14||22||E||33||quinnipiac university (ecac)|
|21||78||13||16||29||+5||35||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||49||11||15||26||-14||38||timra ik (sel)|
|23||63||5||7||12||-11||20||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||65||34||49||83||+38||28||ottawa 67's (ohl)|
|26||80||42||16||58||+2||63||Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)|
|31||79||20||52||72||+1||40||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||53||2||20||22||+9||49||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|24||26||14||17||31||+7||32||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||80||8||14||22||-5||72||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||63||14||19||33||+11||29||edmonton oil kings (WHL)|
|19||56||27||35||62||+4||31||medicine hat tigets (whl)|
|19||44||9||13||22||-3||4||ilves tampere (fnl)|
|24||37||18||15||33||+14||16||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|24||74||6||10||16||-11||108||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||67||12||4||16||-17||45||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||37||3||6||9||+7||119||stockton thunder (echl)|
|21||33||2||6||8||E||127||merrimack college (h-east)|
|18||40||2||35||37||+17||48||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|
|23||46||3||13||16||E||22||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||72||8||43||51||-5||71||regina pats (whl)|
|19||32||0||1||1||-12||32||sioux city musketeers (ushl)|
|18||67||14||42||56||-12||65||prince george cougars (whl)|
|22||67||4||22||26||+8||42||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|21||34||1||3||4||-7||30||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||66||0||15||15||+14||52||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||41||7||17||24||-6||18||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|21||73||2||15||17||+11||138||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|21||59||4||13||17||+6||83||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||56||35||13||8||3||2.47||.919||medicine hat tigers (whl)|
|26||35||17||13||4||0||2.81||.906||Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)|
|36||42||20||16||4||4||2.60||.911||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||34||18||10||4||0||2.90||.901||stockton thunder (echl)|
|19||45||29||13||2||2||2.79||.911||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|