by Lisa Brown on 07/26/12 at 08:00 PM ET
Well, one RFA that is. With the contract extensions signed for defenceman Alex Plante and centreman Chris VandeVelde Thursday morning, the Oilers only have the much talked about Linus Omark left to sign. Or move. But the suggestion that this team may be done making moves couldn’t possibly be an accurate reflection of the state of the team. Whether or not moves actually come through however, will be what remains to be seen.
Chris VandeVelde got his first crack at the NHL with the Oilers in the 2010-11 season playing 12 games with the team racking up 2 assists and 12 PIM but showing his strong defensive side. Then, VandeVelde didn’t get another chance on the NHL roster until March 25th. But VandeVelde took his opportunity and ran with it. With his first shot in his first game of the season, VandeVelde scored his first NHL goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
From there, it was only another 4 games in the lineup until the end of the season, but it was apparent that the Oilers saw enough to keep the young man around. Being a college player with a tourism and recreation degree, the team has a little more time they can spend on VandeVelde before deciding whether or not he can fit into their bottom six at the NHL level or even whether to keep him with the AHL affiliate the Oklahoma City Barons especially after trading away centreman Ryan O’Marra.
At this point, VandeVelde will have to work incredibly hard to make the NHL. Despite playing for a team that went all of the way to the Western Finals in the AHL, VandeVelde scored 13 goals and 6 assists for a total of 29 points with a -4 rating for the regular season. These were not exactly team leading numbers, nor were his total of 43 penalty minutes. But again, this could be another depth signing in the meantime, a player that can win faceoffs and get the call-up when the Oilers’ regulars find themselves injured.
In terms of Alex Plante, the questions usually focus on his skating skills. But this is another player who can be considered a long shot to earn a regular position in the NHL. Especially when Plante has been surpassed by other defencemen such as Colten Teubert and will be challenged by Martin Marincin this season.
Both players were signed to just single year deals and where they go next will be largely dependent on how their AHL seasons go. If they can make a splash at the AHL level it may make them more attractive for an NHL callup or even contract negotiations with another team when they become UFAs. And as for Linus Omark, I think that we all know that both the Oilers and Omark are ready to part ways, it’s just a matter of finding a fit, somewhere for Omark.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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