SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers' Plante bounces back

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 PM ET

At this point, Alex Plante is just another hopeful.

As a first-round draft pick, expectations have always been lofty for the big defenceman.

But an injury plagued year put things in perspective for the Brandon, Man., native and his ability to bounce back the following season revealed plenty about his character.

“I’m happy with the year I had last year, coming back from back problems the year before,” Plante said. “But I don’t really want to think about that, I just want to think about moving forward.

“I learned how to deal with it, you can’t sit and feel sorry for yourself, you have to turn the page and work even harder to catch back up and be where you need to be.”

At 20, Plante still has another year of junior eligibility, but he’ll most likely end up with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield this season.

A big body with an ability to move the puck, Plante still needs to work on his foot speed in order to make the anticipated jump to the NHL.

“He’s come in, in great shape, he has lost a lot of that baby fat off him,” said Oilers assistant general manager Kevin Prendergast. “His skating has to get a little better, but he can move the puck, he thinks the game really well and he’s physical. It’s going to a good year for him in Springfield to take a big step and hopefully down the road, he can be one of our defencemen here.”

Plante spent four seasons with the Hitmen.

After being selected by the Oilers 15th overall in 2007, the six-foot-four, 225-pound blue liner struggled with injuries and was limited to just 36 games. So frustrated by his season, Plante requested a trade, but with the urging of the Oilers, changed his mind and went on to have a strong campaign as the Hitmen made it to the WHL final.

Plante finished with eight goals and 37 assists in 68 games. He added six goals and nine assists in 18 playoff games.

“It was big for him as a character standpoint,” Pendergast said. “There was a lot out on the line for him, he addressed it himself, he went out had a great year, Calgary had a great year, so it was a good experience for him and it seems like he’s brought that here so far into this camp.”


Videos

Photos