Derek Plante played his amateur hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. During his senior year in 1992-93, he became a dominant player on the college circuit, being named to the WCHA First All-Star Team and to the NCAA West First All-American Team. His stellar year was topped off with his selection as USA Hockey's 1993 Male Athlete of the Year.
Plante's star potential did not go unnoticed by the brass of the NHL. He'd already been drafted by the Buffalo Sabres while fresh out of High School back in 1989. Upon completion of his university career, he jumped right into the Sabres' lineup for the start of the 1993-94 campaign. By season's end, he'd made his club's scouting staff look like high-watt light bulbs. His 56 points in 77 games placed him fourth in league scoring for rookies.
During the five seasons that followed, Plante molded himself into a solid, two-way forward who, in 1996-97, led the Sabres in scoring with 53 points while maintaining a +14 rating.
By 1998-99, however, Plante's effectiveness in the NHL began to decline as his travel points began to increase. Late in the season, the Dallas Stars acquired his rights to add depth to their forward lines during their run for the Stanley Cup. The move helped the Stars and it was a godsend for Plante who got his name inscribed on the Cup at the end of the season.
The following year, he began to bounce around, putting in stints with the Stars, Michigan, and Chicago of the IHL, and, finally, with the Chicago Blackhawks where he finished the campaign with 17 games. But by then, his offensive output had all but disappeared. He signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers for the start of the 2000-01 season, although he spent most of the year with the Philly Phantoms of the AHL.
With his pro options coming to a close, Plante jumped at a chance to play in Europe for the 2001-02 campaign where he presently skates for the Munich Barons.