Red Wings Have High Hopes for 2nd Round Pick Max Plante

The Hockey Writers

There is no exact science when it comes to drafting prospects in the NHL. General managers hope and pray that their selections find even moderate success in today’s game. Organizations look for specific traits in players that symbolize the kind of foundation they want their clubs to build upon. The Detroit Red Wings, over the past few seasons, have made it clear what they prefer during this roster construction process: defensively responsible 200-foot players, with high-end upside that play the game the right way. Size, grit and energy are the name of the game for Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman and that’s why he may have gone off the board a little early when he selected forward Max Plante in the second round of the 2024 NHL Draft.

Max Plante USNTDP
Max Plante, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

The 5-foot-11, 177-pound forward has spent the past two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program where he has displayed the potential to be a highly skilled playmaker. Plante skated last season on the third line for the USNTDP’s under-18 squad behind James Hagens and Kamil Bednarik and still managed to put up 61 points (15 goals and 46 assists) in 51 games. Not bad right? “Coming into the Program, I was a short, skinny guy and I went to work the last two years,” said the Minnesota native at the draft. “And I mean, I’ve still got a lot of room to grow in my game and score more goals and get stronger. But over the 17 summer, I thought I got faster and played with more pace.”

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Plante has a strong family bloodline of hockey players. He’s the son of former NHL center Derek Plante, a three-time 20-goal scorer, who hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999. The elder Plante enjoyed an eight-year career in the league playing for the Stars, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks. His brother, Zam, was a fifth-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2022. His youngest brother Victor is already on scouts’ radars for the 2026 Draft. Next season, Max plans to join his brother at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, following in the footsteps of their father – a prestigious alum – who spent four years there. Hockey runs deep within the Plante family.

Plante Continues to Grow

Plante was considered a late bloomer as he stood just a mere 5-foot-6 while weighing a measly 127 pounds when he first tried out for the USNTDP in 2022. A five-inch growth spurt over the last two years has really helped develop his game. He’s a fearless competitor – the kind Yzerman loves – and his tenacity coupled with his high hockey IQ will endear him to the Red Wings’ fan base. Plante plays the game with speed and was also considered one of the better playmakers in this draft. Nick Fohr, his coach at the US National Team Development Program, said watching tape on Plante doesn’t offer up much of an explanation as to how he sees the ice. “One, I don’t know how he knows how that play is even there,” Fohr said. “And two, I can’t even see it on the video with the video paused. So I have no idea how he saw that play was there,” he stated.

“He’s got a knack for seeing the game. He sees it different and he can make plays, and he makes the players around him better, which is what you’re always looking for from a hockey player. He was the smartest hockey player we had on our team.” This is exactly the type of player that Yzerman needs to hit on outside of the first round. The Red Wings lack playmakers in the system and Plante could be just what the doctor ordered. You can’t teach vision, you either have it or you don’t. “This is a kid who doesn’t like to lose,” said Dan Marr, the director of Central Scouting. “This is someone who doesn’t like anybody to get the better of him. So he’s got that compete in him and he’s got a little nastiness in him. Like, he’s going to do whatever he can do to win the battle, whether it’s break the rule, cheat a little bit, just anything to gain the advantage, because he wants to be the best, he wants to come out on top. Those are the type of guys come playoff time that make the difference.” Does he sound like a Yzerman pick yet?

Final Word

I was a little surprised to see Plante’s name called when he was selected at 47th overall. I felt there was better upside from several prospects who went after him. But the more I see how his coaches and teammates praise his upside, the more I’m starting to come around. There is definitely boom-or-bust potential, as is the case with the majority of draft picks, but I think this is a reasonable gamble for Yzerman and the Red Wings organization. The pedigree is there. The skill is there. The attitude and work ethic are there. We won’t know if he can reach his full potential for at least another two or three years as he heads off to college in the fall. He will most definitely need to add strength to his undeveloped frame – that goes without saying – but with his passion for the game, I think there’s a good chance we see more of a complete player in the not-so-distant future. The Red Wings are betting on it.

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