“It helps a lot being around hockey all the time": Hockey runs in the family for 2024 NHL Draft prospect Max Plante
USNTDP forward and 2024 NHL Draft prospect Max Plante comes from a long line of hockey players.
His father, Derek, played parts of eight NHL seasons, most notably with the Buffalo Sabres, and is currently an associate coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. His older brother, Zam, was a Pittsburgh Penguins pick in the 2022 draft, currently playing with the USHL's Fargo Force. And his youngest brother Victor Plante is already on scouts' radars as an '08.
“It helps a lot being around hockey all the time. My dad has been in the industry his whole life. I learned all the steps to take in my hockey career from him,” Plante told EP Rinkside. “My older brother is doing everything for me, and I look up to him. My younger brother helps all of us push each other.”
Even though he sees himself as a winger, he can play centre as well.
“I play mostly wing. I play both positions. I’m an all-around forward. I can make plays quickly,” Plante added. “I don’t score too many goals, but when you put the puck in the net, it’s always fun. My ability to make quick plays by using my teammates. Thinking the game. I want to grow my skill set. Playing centre is fun. I guess battling more in the D-zone and taking face-offs is fun.”
Plante is a good two-way player who doesn’t make mistakes with the puck. He has a good hockey IQ, and he is a 24/7 hockey lifer.
“Just trying to read the play helps with my defensive game,” Plante admitted. “I can always work on being better. Like the third guy high so I can track better in the defensive zone. I feel like my D-zone has been getting there.”
Like all hockey players. Plante devoted some of his summer to improving his game. He seems like a tireless worker off-ice. There’s no question that he’s very engaged when he’s on the ice.
“I worked on getting faster and finding areas to score goals. My strength is something I’ve been working on as well,” Plante divulged. “Strength and speed. I want to win more puck battles and not get hurt, I guess. That’s been a problem for me.”
Having that awareness of not wanting to take undue risk in the corners has made this player take more stock in improving his speed. Speed can get you to the puck first and it can help you get out of the corners before you have to take a hit to make the play.
“That’s why I feel like getting faster is the best thing. The game is getting so fast. If I can get in and out of places faster, then I don’t need to get into contact,” Plante reiterated.
The NTDP is loaded with fast players and that’s good for a player like Plante. They challenge him to become faster and he can gauge his speed against some of his faster teammates. It’s something that motivates him and that’s good for him and his current and future teams.
“Our team is very fast which helps me get faster. I don’t think I’m the fastest guy. I think playing fast is my best asset,” said Plante.
Plante has a game speed. See, the puck, get the puck. When you are in the heat of battle, there are times when your body can do things that you didn’t think were possible, and that’s when we sometimes say a player has game speed. A speed that’s better than if he was timed in a testing session as an example.
“Yes. I’m going work as hard as I can to get that puck,” Plante cited. “We’ll see if I’m faster or not.”
Some guys have a set play they fall back on that’s a foundation of their skill set. Plante is no different and he couldn’t have answered that question any quicker.
“Give-and-go hockey is my hockey. I might not hold on to it for too long. I don’t know. Just being around the puck is kind of my game.”
The competitive nature of this player is off the charts and that’s why he was named to the All-American Game.
“I think it’s fun to meet guys from the USHL that you’ve been battling against for the last two years. Then guys on the NTDP team,” Plante added. “You see new guys, it's a lot of fun to battle against your own teammates too.
"A lot of times to get myself pumped for the game I watch my dad’s Game 7 overtime winner. I’ll watch that before the game to get excited,” Plante smiled.
In that game, he was making smart plays. I spoke to a scout who thought they saw one of those smart plays early in the game. At one point, Plante got a shorthanded opportunity. He’s very good on the penalty kill. He has an active stick while playing defence. Coaches will love his defensive awareness but the fact that he is always looking for that next play is valuable. It helps his teammates get out of the defensive zone at times and at other points in the game it creates a last-minute scoring opportunity in the offensive zone.
Plante is a well-rounded human. He has a great love of sports. He’s mature and he speaks fluent hockey, but he likes to gab about other sports. At one point we were talking about the NFL playoffs, and he knew his stuff and knew a lot of statistics.
I fully expect Plante to nail his team interviews. Teams want players like him. It’s hard to find them as well-schooled as he is, and I fully expect him to go at some point in the mid-to-late second round or early third round. He has a slight frame so he might need three-to-four seasons to build up his body at the University of Minnesota Duluth. His father spent four seasons there, so like father, like son.