In the fifth round of the 2022 NHL draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected forward Zam Plante.
Plante is very young at still being 17, and will have the option to play either high school and/or USHL hockey again in 2022-23, like he did in 2021-21. As of now the plan is for the Minnesota-born youngster to attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth starting in 2023-24.
Like most mid/late round NHL picks, that will make him a seriously long term project for the Penguins, but they’re taking a chance on what could develop into a skilled player.
Scott Wheeler from The Athletic studied Plante and was a big fan, ranking him No. 94 among all draft eligible players. Wheeler wrote:
One of the top forwards in the Minnesota high school circuit the last two years, Plante, who doesn’t turn 18 until the end of August, is a highly-talented, cerebral forward who stepped right into a deep Steel team and continued to play his game. He and his younger brother Max (who has been selected to play for the national development program 2006 age group) were a ton of fun to watch at Hermantown, with Plante’s intelligent game complementing his brother’s pure skilled one. They’re both committed to Minnesota-Duluth, but Plante will return to the Steel and look to be a top producer in the USHL next season first. He’s behind his peers in some ways physically and developmentally, but there’s a real belief that he’s going to play catch-up and it’s not hard to see why when you watch him navigate around the ice and problem solve. A worthy late-round flier.
That wasn’t the only hockey prospect guru who had his eye caught by the potential of Plante.
Penguins select Zam Plante 150th, who was on my "intriguing late-rounders list." Highly skilled, if undersized. Standout player in MN-HS, but heading to Chicago Steel in the USHL where I think he'll thrive. Son of former NHLer Derek Plante— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) July 8, 2022
The Hockey Writers cited offensive instincts, skating and a high motor as some of Plante’s strong points, with a weak shot being an area for improvement. He also is 5’9 and 160 pounds so quite a bit more physical development and time will be naturally needed.
Still, an offensively gifted, undersized center with Minnesota ties? Plante said he models his game after Jake Guentzel (who came from a similar humble and anonymous beginning early in his process). The Pens have struck gold on such a formula before, and while it would be way too early to expect anything like another Guentzel, the team is interested enough to see just how Plante turns out to invest a draft pick in him.