Brandon’s Alex Plante has taken care of his first goal of the hockey off-season by signing a new contract with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Now he’s focused on making the National Hockey League club.
The 23-year-old defenceman spent the majority of the past three seasons playing in the American Hockey League, the last two with the Oklahoma Barons, despite being selected 15th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Oilers. Although he hasn’t been able to play more than four games in a season with Edmonton, Plante is excited about staying with the organization.
“Just for the opportunity to stay with the club that drafted me is exciting,” said Plante, who had a goal and 14 points in 41 AHL games last season. “Also, it’s to be part of something which could be special. They have a lot of young, big-name prospects coming up. They have some older guys like Ryan Smyth who are interested in coming back and trying to make a push. It’s exciting to think about the future, but I have to play my part and get there first.”
Plante feels he’s getting closer to making the NHL team.
The stay-at-home defenceman played a bigger role with the Barons last season as he joined their penalty-killing unit and logged a lot more ice time while helping the team finish first in the Western Conference with a 45-22-4-5 record. They reached the conference final before falling to the Toronto Marlies.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Plante, who became a restricted free agent after the season, is viewing last season as a sign of good things to come, but he’s still not sure what it will take to move up to play with the Oilers.
“I guess you never truly know,” he said. “You have to work for your own breaks and timing does play into it. Hopefully those can come together and I can try to crack the squad and become a full-timer.
“For many players’ point of view, you think you have it figured out, but you’re still learning every day at the rink. I’ll guess I’ll try to be a sponge and keep learning and take advantage of it.”
Plante decided to take some time off from hockey this summer to give himself a mental rest after such a deep playoff run. He’s just starting to get back on the ice and he’s training with Bobbi Schram at Outperform Athletics with other local professional hockey players like his brother Tyler and Matt Calvert.
That has Plante starting to get anxious to get back on the ice with the Oilers so he can try to crack the big-league club’s roster.
“I’m just trying to make steps forward,” he said. “… I am excited to get back on the ice and make a push when I can.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 27, 2012