Every NHL draft pick wants to get to skate in the show, to experience the lifestyle of an NHLer. For Detroit Red Wings draft choice Oscar Plandowski, that’s been a reality in his life for as long as he can remember.
His father Darryl is the director of amateur scouting for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. Plandowski’s mother Jill works as a power skating coach in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her pupils include Red Wings defensive prospect Jared McIsaac.
The hockey life surrounds Oscar Plandowski.
“It was normal for me,” Oscar said. “I never got to experience anything different. But I think as a little kid it was the coolest being able to go into games for free walking in with my dad, going to see junior games, traveling with him on the road the occasional time.
“It has its perks, it also has its negatives as a kid, when your dad’s not there most of the winter, that can be tough, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives, especially preparing for the draft it was definitely huge.”
Prior to moving to the Coyotes in 2019, Darryl Plandowski spent 12 seasons working as a scout with the Tampa Bay Lightning, 11 of those as Tampa Bay’s head amateur scout. His boss for many of those years was current Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman.
“My dad worked for Steve for a little bit, so I guess there’s a little bit of a connection there,” Oscar said. “I’m also close family friends with Dennis Vial. He played for the Red Wings.
“I have some close friends drafted by Detroit, Ethan Phillips and Jared McIsaac, guys from around here that are in the system. This is definitely a perfect scenario.”
Being the son of an NHL scout, Plandowski never had to wonder what the scouting report was on his abilities. He always got the truth from his dad – even when the truth hurt.
“Believe me, I grew up with some pretty constructive criticism,” Oscar said. “When I get it from coaches, it’s not as bad. I’ve grown up being able to take heat on games.
“When I was a lot younger, I’d get more upset or angry at him when I got criticism. But in the long run it’s pretty helpful having someone who knows the game to be able to critique me.”
— QMJHL (@QMJHL) July 24, 2021
Exactly what is the scouting report on Plandowski?
“Excellent skating, puck moving defenseman, creative with the puck, skilled hands to control the puck while gaining the zone, uses his hands and feet to open up lanes, solid vision and puck distributor,” noted Dan Stewart of Draft Prospects Hockey. “He can play a little risky and get himself out of position by being too aggressive at times, although his skating helps him recover many times.”
Better Late Than Never
Plandowski is seen as a project in terms of his NHL potential. That explains why his name didn’t come off the board until 155th overall to the Red Wings during the 2021 NHL entry draft. The 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman collected 5-12-17 numbers with the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders during the 2020-21 season.
Extremely honoured to be selected by the @DetroitRedWings . A huge thank you goes out to my family, and everyone else who has helped me get to this point. Excited for what the future holds! #GoWings pic.twitter.com/QHgdpkldey
— Oscar Plandowski (@OscarPlandowski) July 25, 2021
“That was one of the tougher experiences I’ve had to go through,” Oscar said of the sitting and waiting on draft day. “I hoped to be drafted a little higher. The biggest thing is just being drafted in general.
“When the rounds keep going by and you see your buddies get called it’s kind of painful, but I wouldn’t change how it turned out. At the end of the day, I’m with a team that wanted me the most, so I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”