The ghastly losing streak in Edmonton has finally been snapped, but first an apology.
In last week’s column I incorrectly stated Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano could be sent down to the minors without clearing waivers, but according to the collective bargaining agreement, they have played too many NHL games for that to happen.
So if anything, the Oilers should have given the two prospects some breathing room in the minors before they passed that threshold, but hey – what’s done is done.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the silver lining to one of the blackest clouds in the NHL right now, that of course being the state of the Oilers.
One game after losing crucial defenseman and potential trade bait Sheldon Souray to a busted hand broken during a fight (how does Jarome Iginla find so many ways to hurt Edmonton?), the Oilers snapped a 13-game losing streak by defeating one of the other bottom-feeders this year, the Carolina Hurricanes.
But the Canes are better than their record indicates, so this was no cheap victory. Edmonton got scoring from unlikely sources and contributions from newcomers, a trend that must continue for the rest of the season in order to rebuild for the next.
Alex Plante, playing in his first NHL game, had an assist on the night and based on his pedigree, is one to watch in the future. A big body at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, the blueliner is a graduate of the Western League’s Calgary Hitmen squad, a franchise that has produced talents such as Ryan Getzlaf, Karl Alzner and Andrew Ladd.
Plante can fight, play defense and also produce points from the back end. Interestingly enough, he had two great offensive spurts for the Hitmen at the best of times – the 2007 and 2009 playoffs, where he was nearly a point-per-game player.
With Souray on the shelf and the pressure off, Plante can find his way in the NHL this season and not worry about costing the team with any youthful mistakes. As a first round pick of the Oilers in 2007 (15th overall), there is an expectation for Plante to perform at a high level. A try-out with the big squad is a perfect opportunity.
This article also appeared in the Edmonton Metro newspaper.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appears Monday and Wednesday, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his prospect feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.