The early word we’re hearing (from various sources, notably Jason Gregor) is that one of the reasons Kyle Brodziak was traded is Gilbert Brule. Oilers want to have a look at him (and reportedly MA Pouliot) at center to see if he can handle things.
Last July, HF poster Usual Suspect was recovering from ACL surgery and jotted down notes on a Kevin Prendergast interview. Here’s his summary of the KP conversation:
Brule will likely need time in the minors to get his game back. Lost a lot of his game. Confidence level has gone down. CBJ brought him out too early. Mgmt told Brule that its a strong possibility that he will be in AHL for the season. He will play 1st line, PP, PK. He has all of the tools to become a young Mike Peca. Need to have patience with Brule, they have time to wait for him, there are players ahead of him in our organization.
That’s pretty much how it played out a year ago. Brule went 39gp, 13-11-24 in the AHL and 11gp, 2-1-3 in the show. Despite playing half a season in Springfield, Brule was second in goals (behind Ryan Potulny), but he did finish -12 and against less-than-difficult opposition (source: Jonathan Willis).
One of the explanations for the Oilers seeming inertia with regard to acquiring a checking center (of course since the Heatley deal the only things I’ve read about EDM is their offers to Chris Neil and Ales Kotalik) is that they may feel Brule (or Pouliot) are up to the challenge. I think it’s a bad bet (for this season) in Brule’s case, a better one if they’re thinking Pouliot. Brule probably could serve as a 4line energy center with Jacques and Stortini on the wing.