Photo Credit – Darrell Theriault/Charlottetown Islanders
Oscar Plandowski is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman and he plays for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. Plandowski was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and spent a decent amount of his youth in Halifax. After 2017, he spent two seasons playing outside of Nova Scotia. For his 2017-2018 season, he played prep school hockey for Okanagan Hockey Academy U15 in Edmonton, Alberta alongside quite a few 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects including Sean Tschigerl, Colton Dach (Kirby Dach’s brother), Olen Zellweger, Corson Ceulemans and Kyle Masters. The following season, Plandowski played prep school hockey at the South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut (north of Danbury, CT and east of Poughkeepsie, NY) and played with Cameron MacDonald (2021 NHL Draft prospect) and Ryan Greene (2022 NHL Draft prospect).
Following the conclusion of his 2018-2019 season with the South Kent Selects Academy, he joined the Charlottetown Islanders. Initially, the Chicoutimi Saguenéens had Plandowski’s QMJHL rights. Chicoutimi selected him at 18th overall in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft. But, in August of 2019, the Islanders made a trade with Chicoutimi for Plandowski.
In Plandowski’s two seasons with Charlottetown, he has tallied a combined 24 points in 90 games played. He didn’t record his first QMJHL goal till this season, but he nows has three goals under his belt. Two came against the Halifax Mooseheads and one against the Cape Breton Eagles. Aside from total points, it is worth noting that his EV GF% (Even Strength Goals For Percentage) is the fifth highest in the QMJHL amongst 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects. Per Pick224, he owns a 71.43 percentage and is around 9% short of the leader, William Trudeau (his teammate).
Let’s shift to Plandowski’s family. Hockey is in his bloodlines. Plandowski’s mother, Jill Plandowski is a power skating coach in the Halifax area. She has worked with many NHLers and NHL prospects including Egor Sokolov (Ottawa), Drake Batherson (Ottawa), Ethan Phillips (Detroit), Jared McIssac (Detroit) and Luke Henman (Carolina).
His father, Darryl Plandowski is the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Arizona Coyotes and was hired shortly before the 2020 NHL Draft. Previously, he worked as an amateur scout for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL), Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Before his scouting career, he played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with the Lloydminster Lancers (now known as the Bobcats) and played NCAA hockey at Northern Michigan University.
Oscar’s brothers, Marshall and Jack also play competitively. His older brother, Marshall plays in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League for the East Hants Penguins. Oscar’s younger brother, Jack plays 15U AAA hockey with Bishop Kearney Selects. Jack is eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft.
In addition, Oscar’s cousin, Freddie Halyk is a goaltender for the Alberta Elite Hockey League U18 AAA’s Calgary Flames.
D.O.B – May 18, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –190 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Plandowski’s Style Of Play
Right off the bat, I want to mention that Plandowski didn’t always play defense. He shifted from forward to defense in his bantam days. When Plandowski was previously committed to Quinnipiac University, an independent Quinnipiac hockey blog site spoke to him about his transition to defense. In the interview, Plandowski mentioned “I feel my biggest strength is my skating. I believe my skating is why I could make the transition from forward to defense like I did.” While we are not addressing his skating in this portion of the report, I wanted to share with my readers that Plandowski does come from more of an offensive role and that certainly shows in his play.
When you queue up some footage of Plandowski, you will notice that he pinches quite a bit. Loves to jump to the hashmarks when pucks are in deep. If there is a loose puck along the boards, he likes to pinch up, play the puck and dump it to the corners. With that being said, there are instances where he pinches way too far up and his teammates fail to communicate with him. If you pinch up, you need a forward to fall back. Otherwise, you are leaving your defensive partner in a vulnerable spot. While there are instances where Plandowski jumps up too far, he is generally strong at identifying the best moments to jump up. But, given his offensive background, he is puck hungry and it shows when he is observing a puck battle down low and he pinches too far in.
Plandowski gets a lot of ice-time especially on the power play. While he is right handed, he will on occasion line up on the left side on the power play. The reasoning behind Plandowski lining up on the left side versus the right side is because some right handed defensemen are stronger with their one-timers on the other side. Plandowski has recorded two one-timer goals on the left side of the ice since September. One came in a pre-season matchup against Halifax and the other happened on March 17th against Cape Breton.
While he has had success with his one-timer shots from medium danger and outwards, Plandowski does struggle at times with getting puck on net from beyond the perimeter. His shots tend to go wide from long-range.
Moving aside from his shot, Plandowski can be very deceptive with his puck movement. If a pass comes to him on when he has pinched up to the hashmarks, he knows that he can fool his opposition into thinking that he is going to fire a one-timer to the net. But, he will sometimes fake out the attackers and fire a quick pass to the slot instead to catch them off guard. In addition to deceptive passing, Plandowski has shown that he can manipulate and draw in attackers with ease. His puck movement will bring attackers too far in and that opens up plenty of space for the Halifax native.
Plandowski is very strong defensively in his own zone and in the neutral zone. In the neutral zone, he bends his knees and uses a wider stance to trap puck carrying wingers. By using a neutral zone trap, he makes it much more challenging for the opposition to execute a zone entry and crack through. Plandowski’s gap control can be a handful. With that being said, if the attacker tries to dump the puck into the Charlottetown zone, Plandowski uses his upper body to push the attacker in an effort to trap the attacker from swerving out and regaining the loose puck. He will also apply enough pressure to cut down the speed of the attacker and he uses that to his advantage to chase after the puck and complete a defensive recovery.
While Plandowski does have solid upper body strength, there are times where it doesn’t hold water. With Plandowski’s determination to trap attackers in the neutral zone, sometimes that means trapping them along the boards and occasionally a winger will push back to throw Plandowski off. When that happens, Plandowski needs to push back on the attacker, otherwise if he looses his balance it could lead to some 2-on-1/3-on-1 situations for his defensive partner. Also, when Plandowski plays the puck hard against the boards in the neutral zone, there are times where he gets stuck in the neutral zone and one of the Charlottetown forwards has to drop back. It’s certainly not the worst thing, but strong communication with the forward group has to continue at the NHL level. Otherwise, it will lead to plenty of scoring chances for the opposition.
In the defensive zone, Plandowski does an excellent job of keeping attackers in low danger and stuck along the boards. When Plandowski is keeping attackers along the boards, he will find the most opportune moment to execute a backcheck to attempt to regain possession of the puck. While Plandowski is strong along the boards and regains the possession of the puck with ease, he also can provide the same level of defensive strength at open ice. He will utilize his stick to strip the puck off of an attacker’s stick blade. His reachability allows Plandowski to extend his stick out and cause havoc for attackers who are looking at moving the puck from low danger to medium/high danger.
On the flip side, when Plandowski is facing a forecheck, he manages to draw the attacker in, pivot out and play the puck off of the boards.
From a transitional perspective, Plandowski is extremely effective. He delivers soft and crisp tape to tape zone entry feeds. Plandowski enjoys passing through teammates on zone exits/entries. He will use one teammate in a pick move to throw off the attackers. One teammate will sit at the front of the lane and the desired recipient will sit further along in the lane.
The only challenge that Plandowski has from a transitional perspective is sometimes he doesn’t accurately read his attackers movements. Either he plays the puck right to the attacker and the opposition strips the puck away from Plandowski or he attempts to complete a pass but doesn’t the attacker closing in on the desired lane until the last second. Peripheral vision is always paramount with puck movement and sometimes he struggles with it.
But, when he does control the puck in the neutral zone, more often then not he will complete a zone entry pass. There are certain occasions where he prefers to dump the puck in, but you can bank on Plandowski looking to deliver a zone entry pass more often than not.
When you look at Plandowski’s skating, you come away excited. There is no flaw in his skating. His stride extension length is perfect. He needs two lengthy strides to generate acceleration. Plandowski will also get solid acceleration and power off of his crossovers. His crossovers allow him to gain top speed on the blue-line in the offensive zone and pave the way for strong defensive play especially in the neutral zone when he is skating backwards. His crossovers and stride extension are great, but you can’t forget his edges. He will utilize strong edge work to complete tight turns in all three zones.
Kevin Shattenkirk, Right Handed Defenseman, Anaheim Ducks
Not only is Shattenkirk roughly the same size as Plandowski, but he is a strong two-way defender and has a blistering shot from medium danger and outwards that he utilizes quite often on the power play.
Second Pairing Defenseman (NHL)
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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