Brule’s Mountain

NHL coaching staffs often go with players they’ve been to war with, players with experience, players who have scored big goals to help their team win.

In the case of Gilbert Brule, that may not be the case.

Jim Matheson has an item up on Gilbert Brule’s frustrating off-season and the steps he’s taken to ensure there won’t be a repeat of the events of 2010-11.

I think it is reasonable to assume that coach Tom Renney is going to need to see some evidence of good health from Brule. The depth chart is begging for someone to fall away up front, and Brule’s history puts him in a spot of bother.

FORWARD DEPTH CHART, TC 2011-12

  1. Sam Gagner
  2. Shawn Horcoff
  3. Eric Belanger
  4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  5. Taylor Hall
  6. Magnus Paajarvi
  7. Ryan Smyth
  8. Ben Eager
  9. Darcy Hordichuk
  10. Ales Hemsky
  11. Jordan Eberle
  12. Linus Omark
  13. Ryan Jones
  14. Gilbert Brule

The two slots one can see being in play are RNH and Brule. RNH because he can easily be sent to junior for another year (thus giving Brule a slot on the roster) and Brule–whose injury history suggests the coach may not be able to count on him. Here are the candidates to replace him:

  1. Anton Lander
  2. Ryan O’Marra
  3. Chris VandeVelde
  4. Teemu Hartikainen
  5. Lennert Petrell

There are others, but that group would appear to be the frontrunners for employment should anything break loose. I don’t want to mention it, but we should also allow for the possibility that the Oilers keep 8 defenders so they can take Jeff Petry and Taylor Chorney.

I believe it’ll come down to a conversation. Coach Renney is going to have to be satisfied that road flu is a thing of the past, and that deep in the season when all hands are needed Brule is counted among the men standing. I’m cheering like hell for Brule, and Matty’s article shows that the young man is doing good things in an effort to reclaim his NHL spot.

Training camp is always interesting.

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