Brandon’s Tyler Plante is expected to sign a contract with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles today.
The 25-year-old former Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender has agreed to terms with the Eagles — the ECHL affiliate for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets — and will board a flight today for Denver.
"I haven’t signed anything yet, but we have agreed to everything, so I will sign when I get there," Plante said Monday from his home in Brandon. "They have two goalies (Adam Brown and Kyle Jones) right now, so I guess for now there will be three goalies. I don’t know what’s going to happen."
Colorado is currently 1-3-0-1 and has given up more goals against (23 in five games) than any team in the ECHL.
Plante went to training camp with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, last month and was one of four goaltenders in camp along with Eddie Pasquale, Mark Dekanich and Chris Carrozzi. Pasquale and Dekanich — both AHL veterans — made the team, while Plante and Carrozzi were released, with Carrozzi later joining the ECHL’s Ontario Reign. Plante is now looking to make the most of his second opportunity in the Jets’ organization.
"Definitely. When I went to St. John’s, obviously I saw that it was a first-class organization and you could tell right from the way they practised, the way they treated you on and off the ice, they expect you to act professional," said Plante, who will join fellow former Wheat King Teegan Moore in Colorado. "I just feel it will be really exciting to be a part of an organization that is run so well from top to bottom."
Plante, the WHL’s rookie of the year in 2005, was picked by the Florida Panthers in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2005 NHL draft and spent four years in the Panthers organization before being released midway through last season and headed overseas to play in Sweden. The trickle-down effect of the NHL lockout has made it more difficult for goaltenders, in particular, to find work this season and Plante is happy to have an opportunity.
"All I know is this is the longest it has ever taken me to find a job," Plante said. "I don’t know if it’s the lockout or what is happening, but I’m pretty grateful right now for the opportunity in Colorado, that’s for sure."
Plante was one of a number of former Wheat King pro players who skated with their old club in pre-season during the lockout and recently even practised with the Deloraine Royals senior hockey team.
"Hopefully my practices with the Deloraine senior team have kept me sharp enough," he said with a chuckle. "I think (the Eagles) are going to let me get back into game shape before they throw me in a game. I told them I’ve had limited ice lately."
Meanwhile, another former Wheat King is heading to Europe today to resume his professional career. Right-winger Eric Fehr, who spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets but is currently an unrestricted free agent, tweeted Monday that he has signed with HPK (Hämeenlinnan Pallokerho) in Finland’s top pro league, SM-Liiga.