Once upon a time, everyone loved Gilbert Brule. He was ranked as a lottery pick his draft year and no one in the entire land had a discouraging word. He was compared in style to Theo Fleury, and the toughest public scouts of all (Redline Report) threw away their cranky thesaurus and gushed:
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.
If we could skip from the day that scouting report was published right to opening night 09-10, the Gilbert Brule story would be a lot easier to explain. However, Brule was drafted by a team run by Mad Dogs and Englishmen and it cost the kid some years of his life and a few injuries. He lost his way, just as Daniel Cleary did years before when the Chicago Blackhawks also had no clue about what they were doing.
Gilbert Brule is going to have to deal with being 5.10 his whole life, and injuries too. He also played in some terribly good luck this past season, but I don’t think we should be too hard on the kid. Fact is, he’d earned it. Gilbert Brule survived Doug MacLean’s hockey genius; he may never have a more difficult experience.
- Boxcars: 65gp, 17-20-37
- Shots: 121
- Plus Minus: -8
- Corsi (Rel): 5.8 (5th among F’s)
- GF/GA ON: 38-43
- 5×5/60: 2.36 (2nd among regulars)
- 5×4/60: 1.99 (11th among regulars)
- Quality of Competition: 10th F
- Quality of Teammates: 5th F
- FO %: 52.6 in 274 FO’s
- Cap Hit: $1.85M
- What do these numbers tell us? Brule played in really good circumstances (soft minutes, reasonably good teammates) and he delivered an excellent season. So good in fact that it isn’t going to be easy to repeat it. Brule scored 17 goals in 65 games; while averaging 12:42 a night at even strength he popped 15. If he’s going to increase his numbers (or stay level) it’ll come on the powerplay.
- How could these numbers be better? He delivered extremely well for the minutes played. The concern is that he stagnates or goes backwards. We’ll feel a lot better about Gilbert Brule if he has a healthy and successful 10-11. But, based on this one season, I don’t think we could have asked for more.
- Is he going to be a complete player? Brule didn’t spend his season running around without a clue, but he isn’t Donny Marcotte on the forecheck either. He did perform well in the FO circle. We can overrate the defensive aspects (he is after all a skill winger) but if he’s playing with Penner (and Gagner) that line is going to face some tough music and it’ll be all hands on deck.
- He’s the most physical of the young forwards. And among the smallest, so I think that is going to be a net minus when we’re done talking about Brule’s career.
- Even though he may not repeat it, that’s just a terrific EV/60 number. You bet, he had a fine season. I’m especially pleased he signed a reasonable contract. There’s a chance we’re talking about him being a value player one year from now, and after this past season there was a real danger the Oilers would ‘Nilsson’ him.
- Why didn’t he get more of a push from Quinn? I think it was just luck and circumstance. Quinn wasn’t exactly at the top of his game last season (juggling from sunup to sundown will do that to you) and the coaching staff seemed to like him in a specific even strength role. Maybe I’m making excuses, but if you look at the time on ice the coaching staff seems to have shown a preference to go with others.
- He could have had a much better season with more minutes. Or the added minutes might have done little to increase his boxcars and decrease his real value. One never knows and we’ll probably see more minutes from Brule this season.
- How valuable is Brule to the Oilers? He’s pretty valuable. Along with Gagner, Gilbert Brule is one of the young players who you can see making his way as an NHL player. He’s not out of the woods yet, but the guy has a rifle and he’s got gumption. That’s a pretty unique skill set on this roster, especially if he can remain healthy.
- You like him. I’m beginning to. I don’t think he’s going to get any better than he is now, but there’s a real chance the organization can find a role for him and that he can grab it and his career will have sustain. Gilbert Brule, former lottery pick, is going to need a little luck to have a successful career. But it is out there, after all.
By The Numbers
- 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.74
- 09-10 5×5 per 60m: 2.36
By The Numbers
- 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 0.00
- 09-10 5×4 per 60m: 1.99
Predictions Past 2009-10: 55gp, 7-8-15 (.273)
Performance in 2009-10: 65gp, 17-20-37 (.569)
Prediction for 2010-11: 75gp, 18-22-40 (.533)
Oilers find a shooter