Tyler Plante makes a stop while taking part in Wheat Kings practice on Tuesday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon’s Tyler Plante is getting a second chance with a new NHL organization.
The 25-year-old former Brandon Wheat Kings netminder has received an invitation to attend training camp with the St. John’s IceCaps, the AHL farm club of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.
The camp starts Sept. 30 in Corner Brook, N.L., and Plante is pumped for the opportunity.
"When I found out that I would have a chance to go to a tryout with the Winnipeg Jets organization, there was no hesitation whatsoever," said Plante, who is one of a handful of local professional players who are currently skating with the WHL’s Wheat Kings. "And being a Manitoba boy growing up when the Jets were still around, they are obviously your team. So just to be a part of the camp and get invited is pretty special ...
"I want to go and try to make an impression and there is no team I would rather go to and I am going to go there and try to do everything I can to get noticed," Plante said.
Originally a second-round pick (32nd overall) of the Florida Panthers in the 2005 NHL draft, Plante’s four-year stint in the organization ended midway through last season when Florida put him in waivers. Starting with the Panthers in NHL pre-season action before joining their AHL and ECHL affiliates, Plante wound up playing for five teams in four leagues on two continents last season, finishing his tour overseas with Djurgårdens IF in Sweden’s top league, the Elitserien.
"When I was over in Sweden I definitely picked up some different traits of goaltending, watching those Swedish goaltenders," said Plante, who led Brandon to the 2004 Midget AAA national championship and was named the WHL’s rookie of the year in 2005. "They have a little different style and I got to do a lot of learning when I was over there. It was one of those years that was a little disappointing, but at the same time, I got to do a couple of things that I didn’t think I would be doing, marking them off the old bucket list. So it was a pretty fun experience at the same time."
While he would have considered a return overseas, the impending NHL lockout — slated to take effect on Saturday — has left a number of European teams waiting to see what happens in North America before filling their import quotas, in the event there will be an influx of NHL talent looking for work. The uncertainty has left plenty of free agents in limbo and left Plante happy to have landed an AHL tryout.
"I’m not really sure what’s going on," Plante said. "I know there’s a lot of free agents out there that still don’t really know what to do. I was talking to a couple of my buddies who had jobs last year and this year, with the circumstances, they don’t seem to have a place to fit in yet. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe we will find out more on the 15th and we’ll see how everything plays out. But as for now, I am just focusing on getting ready to go to St. John’s."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 12, 2012