In terms of scouting reports, Gilbert Brule got rave reviews. Even Redline report loved him and they hate everybody.
Here’s what Redline wrote about him before he was drafted: If Brule follows Sidney Crosby as the 2nd overall pick in the draft, it will be the first time since 1981 (Dale Hawerchuk & Doug Smith) the top two picks were both under 6-0. Size isn’t a concern with Brule, because he plays such a big game. At times, he’s actually physically dominating because of his fearless and abrasive style. And let’s not forget about his offensive skills, which are NHL calibre. Brule has one of the hardest, most accurate shots we’ve ever seen in the WHL. As close to the complete package as a 5-10 player can ever be.
ISS loved him too and he was drafted very high (6th overall) and in his 18-year old season dominated junior hockey (regular season and playoffs combined he went 45gp, 39-29-68 +19) and even got into 7 NHL games (2-2-4, -2).
In 06-07 (his 19-year old season) Brule played in 78 games, going 9-10-19. Those aren’t horrible numbers for a player that age and he did it in just over 10 minutes a game (830 minutes total). Although they were in different era, Ales Hemsky went 6-24-30 in 59 games and 712 total minutes at the same age. 19-year olds who survive an NHL season should be considered winners, let alone getting to 30 points. This past season he played even less. 603 minutes, 61gp, 1-8-9 -4.
He’s undersized for the style he plays and that has already resulted in injury. In his young NHL career, he’s already had a sternal clavicular sprain, a broken right leg and inflamed tonsils. The tonsils are one thing, the other two injuries are probably the result of a smaller man playing a very physical style and coming out second best. His faceoff number (51.3%) was good for his age in very limited action (78 faceoff) in 07-08, but it was only 45.9% in 268 tries the previous season.
Brule is a center who can play wing, a skill player who can play a physical style and a playmaker who can score goals. There are lots of things to like about him and he could have a wonderful camp and make this team. Holding him back will be a lack of consistency, his being an unknown quantity to a coach who often makes the safe roster choice to start the season and allows kids to prove themselves on the farm (this goes all the way back to Horcoff, who impressed the hell out of the organization fall 2000 before being sent down) and the fact that (just like Dan Cleary when he arrived here) this is a young man who has had a very difficult two years trying to find his way and has been a victim of an organization that doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing.
The Oilers are very likely to send him down to the AHL, have him gain confidence and recall him once he’s kicking out the jams.