In 2013, after being selected 96th overall in the draft, the forward led the Oilers Rookies with two goals in two games. He followed it up with another two goals last year. This time around, the 20-year-old from Waterloo, Ont., has a goal and two assists for Edmonton.
“I’ve got the offensive skill I showed last year, but I’m also trying to round out my game,” said Platzer. “I feel like I’ve been pretty good on both sides of the puck, other than the one goal (against Calgary). Other than that, I’ve been pretty tidy. The offensive game is coming too. It’s nice.”
Platzer should feel comfortable. He’s a Young Stars veteran compared to some of the other names on the Oilers Rookies roster. He’s also coming off a monster season in the Ontario Hockey League, where he posted career-high numbers for the Owen Sound Attack. Platzer had 81 points, including 34 goals, in 68 games. Those numbers dwarfed his previous production. He says coming to Penticton and the Oilers camps have helped him develop.
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“It was just maturity I think,” Platzer said. “When I was a younger guy, I didn’t really know how to be a pro. Once I came to these camps, I figured it out and learned quick and tried to absorb as much as possible. I took all those lessons back to junior, they paid off and I had a great season.”
Platzer is listed as 6-foot-0 and 181 pounds. Oilers Sr. Director of Player Development Rick Carriere called him ‘deceptive with his size’ when he discussed the prospect earlier this off-season. The Oilers say Platzer is a talented skater but needs to develop the defensive side of his game. They envision him as a third-line, two-way centreman some day.
“I think I can be a two-way forward,” said Platzer. “Put me on in the last two minutes and I can stop a goal for you. Put me on in the last two minutes and I can also score for you. That’s who I want to be. I want to be a reliable player. I think I’m heading in the right direction. I just have to keep plugging away.”
Platzer will keep “plugging away” on his defensive game as he enters his first professional season.
“Put as much detail into the offensive game as I do into the defensive game and just be hard on my draws, and in the defensive zone, be aware with my head on a swivel,” said Platzer of improving his defence. “As a centreman, I have a lot of responsibility in the defensive zone I think a lot more than a winger does. It was just about getting into that frame of mind of always being aware with my head on a swivel and I think I’ve done a good job at it but there’s still a lot of room to improve.”
Platzer looks to Boston’s David Krejci and Florida’s Dave Bolland for inspiration.
“They’re two-way centres and absolutely awesome on draws. That’s something I’m really trying to work on too. I want to chip in offensively but also be super reliable in the defensive zone. People always want to grow up and score 500 goals in the NHL but that’s not the reality of it anymore. Guys like that go unnoticed but they are a huge part of the team.”
Platzer has a step up on other prospects in the Oilers system, because not only has he been to three Young Stars tournaments, he also gained valuable pro experience in the American Hockey League last year. Platzer joined the Oklahoma City Barons before their playoff run and scored two goals and added an assist in four games. He also played three games in the post-season.
|Photo by Andy Devlin. |
One of Platzer’s linemates in Oklahoma City came away impressed.
“I liked him,” said Josh Winquist. “He was fast, creative and I was really surprised with how well he did on faceoffs. It’s a different game taking faceoffs against men rather than boys in junior. He was very strong with that and he’s a really skilled player. I expect a lot from him.”
“I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” Platzer said of the experience. “I’ve played pre-season games (in Edmonton) and I know that’s obviously super fast, but I just had to adjust to the d-zone. I think that’s the biggest adjustment for me. I felt I was OK offensively. I could keep up and make plays, but just getting used to the d-zone because if I can take care of that I can play in the other zone too. It’s just being aware, growing up and being a pro. It was a great experience for me and it’s going to help me this year a lot.”
Platzer has caught the eye of Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli as well. The GM spoke to the media on Sunday and singled out Platzer as one of the players who has surprised him thus far.
“He has a good shot,” said Chiarelli. “He’s very athletic. Good shot and goes to the spots. His skating seems to be improving from July so he’s on an upward trend.”
Platzer becomes a full-time pro this season. He hopes that upward trend continues with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL when their season gets started. The centre laid out his goals for 2015-16.
“I want to be in Bakersfield the whole year, play a key role there, be a guy that’s relied on as a younger guy, keep building and hopefully get a call up in the next year or two. Just go from there.”