RE 09-10: Gilbert Brule

Let’s agree we’re never going to mention where Gilbert Brule was taken in the draft ever again.


Gilbert Brule had an average season in the American Hockey League. Don’t take my word for it, Jonathan Willis told you here.

PLUS the “saw him good” crowd have chimed in with the same opinion. Steve Tambellini spoke about Brule’s season earlier this week:

  • “I wasn’t displeased with his AHL season, but I think he could have been a lot better.”

You get that kind of review from the boss and you better head to camp Mandelbaum for the summer. The math on Brule isn’t terribly encouraging: he’s small (5.10, 180 according to the Oilers) and with most players who are undersized and play with abandon he has a long injury history. Broken legs, sternal clavicular sprain–these aren’t groin pulls–speak to his courage but Brule’s development has been clouded (as with Pouliot) by these injuries. His GP totals run in fits and starts, and that’s without the “Dan Cleary in Chicago” treatment given by this generation’s Sam Pollock (Doug MacLean).

Earlier this week, the Oilers signed Brule to a 1-year, two-way contract for $800,000. We know from reading the steeped-tea leaves that Pat Quinn knows him from the Giants days and that there are some waiver concerns in the ether.

We also know that the things that concern us now were there on draft day. Redline: 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.

  • Boxcars: 11gp, 2-1-3, 12pims
  • Shots: 13
  • Plus Minus: -3
  • Corsi: -18.6
  • GF/GA ON: 3-6
  • 5×5/60: 1.74
  • 5×4/60: 0.00
  • Quality of Competition: 3rd level
  • Quality of Teammates: 2nd level
  • FO %: 80% on 5 sorties
  • 09-10 Cap Hit: $.800k (capgeek)
  1. What do these numbers tell us? Not much, there’s just not enough at-bats to draw a conclusion. His Desjardins NHLE number from the Falcon season (82gp, 13-11-24) suggests he might bring some goal-scoring to the 4line if healthy but that’s not a very tangible conclusion.
  2. How could the numbers be better? We need more, this is too small a sample. The Straight Jackets seasons aren’t terribly useful because the kid was bleeding out.
  3. What about Pouliot? They have some things in common: disappointing draft picks, injuries and a rumbling, tumbling, stumbling beginning to their careers. A good guess would be that one will make it and the other will be learning a new trade.
  4. What about a 4th “energy line”? Brule’s best chance at a big league job is identical to the way Daniel Cleary made the show: a Bulldog line. Should he come in and show chemistry with some of the Falcons (Stone, Potulny, Schremp) the entire line might get hired ala Cleary-Riesen-Swanson fall 2000.
  5. Will Quinn play him? I think hockey men are always interested in lottery picks who haven’t delivered. Quinn could be a hero based on getting a full season of quality from Brule alone and that might be on his list of “things to do” this winter in Edmonton. I’m kind of joking but then again not really: confidence is an amazing thing, and should Quinn look this kid square in the eyes and say “you’re a hometown boy and this is your chance” we might get a season that math couldn’t predict.
  6. What Else? Man he’ll need to deliver some things to cover that trade. The Torres deal came on the heels of the Viz trade if I recall correctly and represented a major roster shift in a few short hours.
  7. How Important is Brule to this team? Not at all. If he rips his knee up in TC it’ll be a sad story for him but this is house money at this point.

Prediction for 2009-10: 55gp, 7-8-15 (.273 per game)

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27 Responses to "RE 09-10: Gilbert Brule"

  1. spOILer says:

    Was he maybe playing to not get hurt last year?

    …He sure seems to have a lot of attributes–all the pedigree in the world–and there's no denying his heart. But size, injuries, and development are pretty thick arrows pointing against him. You haven't done Potulny's RE yet but I suspect I will like him more.

    Now I wouldn't be unhappy if a 4th liner can net 13 or so. JFJ seems more of a passer, so they might mesh well. And I do think in the long run Brule will be more useful than say Nilsson

    Unfortunately, once again we have a player whose attributes are replicated elsewhere on the roster. I especially have trouble seeing Brule and Schremp both making it, although I'm sure there will be auditions.

    But if we're going to do it the Detroit way, well then there's really no rush for either, is there?

  2. Art Vandelay says:

    3rd overall, wasn't it?

  3. Steve says:

    I especially have trouble seeing…Schremp…making it

    Fixed it for you.

  4. Sign Johnny Bower says:

    1 Pittsburgh Sidney Crosby
    2 Anaheim Bobby Ryan
    3 Carolina Jack Johnson
    4 Minnesota Benoit Pouliot
    5 Montreal Carey Price
    6 Columbus Gilbert Brule
    7 Chicago Jack Skille
    8 San Jose Devin Setoguchi
    9 Ottawa Brian Lee
    10 Vancouver Luc Bourdon
    11 Los Angeles Anze Kopitar
    12 NY Rangers Marc Staal

  5. bookie says:

    Torres was a salary dump with the return being a lottery ticket. It shouldn't be evaluated as though it were a one for one trade.

    Torres was a pretty erratic performer. I am not sure how his performance was in Columbus (I see his points were about the same, but he may have been more consistant) and there was the feeling that on 2 out of every three nights, the guy was a wasted roster spot.

  6. Schitzo says:

    Meh, could have been Luc Bourdon.

  7. PunjabiOil says:

    What's this 'Mark Messier was interviewed by Edmonton business' I'm hearing?

    Looks like your sources were right, LT.

    Hopefully these are the same sources that are saying Heatley to Edmonton is still a possibility.

  8. Hoos says:

    LT, I'm wondering how much of Stoll and Torres leaving was maybe a personality conflict with Mac T? Both were sat, talked to, prodded by the media in the season before their eventual trades … was it Mac T saying, "look, we need these guys to go."

    Something says to me that this was at least part of it. Especially with Matty's article asking if there was an the Stoll/Greene/Lubo trade was an overpay.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Hoos: I remember an on-ice exchange that involved Zack Stortini playing on the Stoll-Torres line that was followed by a benching for both so expect you're right. Still, if you trade an actual NHL player getting one in return is always a good idea.

    PJ Oil: Yeah. Which is actually a pretty big indictment of this ownership group when you think of it. A courtesy interview is one thing, but being under consideration with really zero experience is quite another.

  10. godot10 says:

    //LT, I'm wondering how much of Stoll and Torres leaving was maybe a personality conflict with Mac T?//

    Stoll is a thoroughly mediocre (and now overpaid) hockey player. He is an above average special teams player, and face off guy, but at even strengh he is cold porridge. He gives you nothing.except faceoffs and PK. And is earning $3.5 million for that because of powerplay points.

    Torres had two great months in the playoffs, with Peca. He has been consistent in his inconsistency otherwise. He is just not a reliable hockey player, apart from those two months in 2006.

    I'll take Visnovsky, thank you.

  11. Big Dan says:

    LT, you sure are being conservative with your numbers for everybody.

    Brule's AHL season was lukewarm (as was everybody else) but he was impressive at the NHL level for 11 games.

    If somebody gets hurt or Cogliano/ Penner/ Nilsson struggle, Brule could find himself on the top two lines.

    Just like I think Pouliot could find himself on the 3rd line with O'Sullivan and Pisani if he plays well or injuries hurt.

    Otherwise, I think Pouliot & Brule could form a solid 4th line with Jacques or Stortini in the mold of Dowd/ Devereaux/ Laraque.

    I seem to be a little bit higher on everybody. Quinn won't be as conservative offensively as MacT.

    Ales Hemsky 77-22-49-71
    Shawn Horcoff 78-21-38-59
    Patrick O'Sullivan 82-23-28-51
    Sam Gagner 80-16-35-51
    Dustin Penner 74-20-26-46
    Andrew Cogliano 80-18-24-42
    Robert Nilsson 74-14-26-40
    Lubo Visnovsky 72-11-29-40
    Sheldon Souray 57-17-21-38
    Fernando Pisani 75-15-20-35
    Denis Grebeshkov 74-7-26-33
    Gilbert Brule 65-12-19-31
    Marc Pouliot 71-9-19-28
    Tom Gilbert 75-7-21-28
    Ethan Moreau 61-9-9-18
    J.F. Jacques 72-8-8-16
    Ladislav Smid 72-1-13-14
    Zach Stortini 56-4-4-8
    Jason Strudwick 64-2-6-8
    Steve Staios 68-3-4-7
    Steve MacIntyre 15-1-1-2
    Ryan Potulny 7-0-1-1
    Liam Reddox 2-0-0-0
    Dean Arsene 2-0-0-0
    Ryan Stone 8-0-0-0
    Theo Peckham 15-0-0-0

  12. Lowetide says:

    I disagree on Torres. He had an impact in terms of physical play and the math loved him pretty much all down the line.

    Stoll had an enormous mountain to climb and did it with dregs here so we didn't see him in the best possible light.

    I loved the Viz trade, still do. However, Kevin Lowe never learned (ever!) that when you trade Chris Pronger, allow Tarnstrom and Spacek to leave via free agency you need to have another plan to replace those minutes if you're acquiring kids for Pronger.

    The Viz trade is another example. Balance and actual NHL players. The Oilers since the Stanley run have had the look of a ship capsizing and doing it with a crew that doesn't shave yet.

    And that's on Lowe.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Big Dan: I'm not assuming any injuries because I can't. I understand the numbers look conservative in some cases but overall the numbers project an increase in scoring.

  14. godot10 says:

    //I loved the Viz trade, still do. However, Kevin Lowe never learned (ever!) that when you trade Chris Pronger, allow Tarnstrom and Spacek to leave via free agency you need to have another plan to replace those minutes if you're acquiring kids for Pronger.//

    Lowe gave MacT Hejda. MacT didn't play him.

    I believe that Pouliot can be as good or better even strength player than Stoll. MacT didn't play him. He overplayed Horcoff, rather than teach Pouliot to penalty kill

    MacT had a left wing who make the bottom of the roster rock and roll in Glencross, and he didn't fight to keep him. He talked that off season about Nilsson's potential.

    The coach has to coach all the players. Not just his pet projects.

    MacT never got past the SC final loss. In hindsight, he was a different coach after than he was before, relying more on tactics rather than player development.

    Money ruined both the coach and the GM. They were a better coach and GM when they had less money to spend. Money made both start looking for shortcuts.

    Even some of the fans have been "corrupted" by the Oilers have status, with talk of burying contracts

    Tambellini, at least, realizes that he is not going to get out of the cap hell that Lowe left him. He has to take the pain now to regain the fleibility to manage the team properly.

  15. Lowetide says:

    So, MacT loses Pronger, Spacek and Tarnstrom but Lowe gave him Hejda. Okay, then.

  16. Sign Johnny Bower says:

    "Lowe gave MacT Hejda. MacT didn't play him."

    Myth making
    Hejda played the 5th-most minutes of Oiler's D that season

    Lowe didn't re-sign him

  17. godot10 says:

    //So, MacT loses Pronger, Spacek and Tarnstrom but Lowe gave him Hejda. Okay, then.//

    Pronger, Spacek, Tarnstrom out.
    Hejda, Tjarnqvist, Smid in.

    Hejda replaces Pronger's defensive roles adequately. You weren't going to replace Pronger. MacT was going to have to start coaching again.

    Spacek was a 3 or 4 defenseman. Tjarnqvist, a 4 or 5. And Tarnstrom was really only an offensive specialist as a defenseman, and Smid was a very good young prospect.

    In a cap world, you are always going to have role players coming and going. Spacek didn't want to play in Edmonton. What were they supposed to do? Overpay him? They offered essentially the same money as Buffalo. Spacek didn't want to be in Edmonton, just like Pronger.

    Matt Greene seemed to be able to take a bigger step in LA than he did under MacT.

    MacT was just putting in less effort into player development and recognition post lockout, than pre lockout. In hindsight, he became a tactical coach rather than a player development coach.

    If you aren't developing players, your shelf life as a coach becomes short.

    MacT would rather play Strudwick, then develop Smid as a player. MacT would rather play Pisani at centre, than develop Pouliot as a player.

    He never recovered from the Stanley Cup defeat. In hindsigiht, he was a different coach after than he was before.

    Lindy Ruff keeps churning out the players from farm to the NHL. MacT stopped doing that after the lockout.

  18. godot10 says:

    //Myth making
    Hejda played the 5th-most minutes of Oiler's D that season//

    After the season was lost. All of those minutes were from January on, when everyone else was injured.

  19. Sign Johnny Bower says:

    "After the season was lost"

    I don't recall the season being lost in January.
    As of a February road trip wasn't it?
    Games played:
    Nov 8
    Dec 2
    Jan 13
    Feb 13
    Mar 2

  20. Lowetide says:

    You're making a crazy argument here.

    Hejda had zero NHL games. Now, he has worked out and the Oilers should have signed him but that's way different than what you're implying. You are saying Hejda was as good then as now and that MacT should have inserted him and given him heavy minutes right away.

    That's not 20/20 hindsight, that's just making shit up.

  21. spOILer says:

    Agreed here on Hejda. he came to the Oil with a wealth of international experience and zeron NHL experience. He was an unknown quantity, with plenty of known quantities ahead of him. Once he had a chance to adjust to North America, the league and the team, and as injuries took their toll, he got played by MacT and with decent minutes. I thank MacT for not throwing him to the wolves immediately and giving him a chance to adjust.

  22. Peter says:

    I realize the odds are stacked against him, but does anyone ever stop and think that he's just 22? Not only is he very talented, but he was also CHL scholastic player of the year his last year junior, which tells me he has a head on his shoulders.

    I know that if he was ever gonna be a 1st line player, he would have showed a lot more by now, but you always talk about a 'wide range of skills'. Well, this guy has great offensive tools – speed, puck handling, great shot – and he plays hard, and goes into the corner, perhaps too hard. He sounds like a fairly good faceoff man for his age (around 50% I think) and if he's a bright kid, he can probably be taught to play defence. It isn't the most difficult thing in the world. If our team wasn't full of small young players, I think he'd be a lock to make this team. I think he'll do enough to stick, though not in a big role.

  23. Peter says:

    I was delighted to see Torres go. A big guy who could skate and had some skill, but incredibly inconsistent and one of the dumbest hockey players I've ever seen. He would pick the worst time to take a penalty, and he always knew it once he got to the box. I would have traded him for a bag of pucks.

    Stoll was a good Oiler, but he's definitely overpaid now. He had a great 1st half in 06-07 before that concussion derailed him, and he was pretty brutal his last year here. Definitely a useful player, but more of a 3rd liner masquerading as a top-6 guy.

    Speaking of 3rd line centres, it seems like that's all we worry about now (aside from lack of size up front), but much less often about our shut-down d-man. We have zero defencemen that could be considered shut-down guys – Smid might be one day, even soon, but not yet. Staios is at least 3 years past his prime, and closer to a #7 than a #4 d-man. The rest are offensive guys. Souray and Staios need to go, Souray in exchange for a Scuderi type d-man, or a guy like Greg Zanon (who will be a great pick up for Minnesota), and Staios will allow Peckham to come up.

  24. godot10 says:

    //Hejda had zero NHL games. Now, he has worked out and the Oilers should have signed him but that's way different than what you're implying.//

    Hitchcock paired him with Foote in a shutdown role pretty much from day 1.

    In retrospect, Hejda was the first sign that MacT had lost "it" as a coach.

    By the time he began criticizing AHL players in public last year, well, it was staring one in the face.

    People would rather blame Lowe, than MacT. I think it was both of them not dealing with the aftermath of the Cup loss and the Pronger betrayal, and with a larger budget well.

    Contrast Lowe and MacT with Regier and Ruff in dealing with the misfortune that befell them. Two guys moved on and got on with business. Two guys didn't.

    What is critical now is for Lowe to stop whispering Heatley into Katz and Tambellini's ear.

  25. mc79hockey says:

    Hitchcock paired him with Foote in a shutdown role pretty much from day 1.

    In retrospect, Hejda was the first sign that MacT had lost "it" as a coach.

    Hejda was actually a proven NHLer by the time that he got to CBJ, unlike in Edmonton. The comparison isn't accurate.

  26. godot10 says:

    //Hejda was actually a proven NHLer by the time that he got to CBJ, unlike in Edmonton. The comparison isn't accurate//

    If he was such a proven NHL'er after playing in a mop up role for MacT at the end of 2007, how come he ended up in Columbus?

    MacT didn't play the guy for half a season, and then let him walk the following summer for nothing.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Godot10: This isn't a reasonable argument. It just isn't.

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