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Posted - 12/03/2009 :  10:26:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It was over four years ago that hockey scouts, GM's, analysts, and fans were debating who should go first overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. There was a wonder-kid named Sidney Crosby that was drawing most of the attention but some were openly suggesting that Gilbert Brule had the makings of a future NHL superstar.

“I’ve never seen a 16-year-old who has Gilbert’s skill level along with his competitive nature,” said ex-Giants head coach Dean Evason.

“We had Scott Gomez when I was in Tri-Cities, and his career speaks for itself,” said then Vancouver Giants GM Scott Bonner. “Gilbert is as good at 16 as Scott was at 18.”

Brule was subsequently drafted 6th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team in dire need of a star player to compliment franchise winger Rick Nash. He drew comparisons to Steve Yzerman and the Jackets felt he was NHL-ready. He immediately stepped into the NHL but was injury plagued in his first season, suffering a fractured sternum in the Jackets home opener and then a broken leg in November. Brule finished the season with just 7 NHL games under his belt and a stint in the WHL to finish the year.

Brule managed to stay healthy in 2006-07, playing in 78 games for the Blue Jackets but managed only 9 goals and 19 points. 2007-08 was expected to be a growth year for the gifted forward, but Brule struggled mightily and ended up on the 4th line or scratched and totaled just 1 goal and 9 points in 61 games.

It didn't take long for comparisons to Alexandre Daigle to pop up and many hockey people wondered where Brule stood as one of the NHL's biggest busts of all time.

He was just 20 years old.

Brule is currently playing on the Oilers top line.

On Canada Day of 2008 Gilbert Brule was offered new life as the ever-youthful Edmonton Oilers dealt 3rd liner Raffi Torres to Columbus to acquire his rights. Brule was cut at training camp, suffered yet another injury while playing in the AHL, and finished the season playing only 50 games that included a brief 11 game call-up to the Oilers (he totaled 2 goals and 3 points).

Perhaps the biggest break of Brule's professional career came when the Oilers hired Pat Quinn as head coach. The two were familiar with each other from Brule's junior days (Quinn is a co-owner of the WHL's Giants) and the coach thinks the Blue Jackets gave up on Brule too soon.

"I'm not sure they had the best interest of that kid at heart because they put him in the National Hockey League -- and he didn't play. He should have been playing junior hockey. That's an opinion only," said Quinn.

"We're going to have a good look at him because he has skill. As a 17-year-old, he was the best player at the Memorial Cup. He has kind of plateaued."

Fast-forward to today. Brule has played in 24 of the Oilers 27 games to date, totalling 8 goals and 17 points, including 7 points in his past 6 games. More importantly, he's getting quality ice-time skating on the Oilers 1st line filling in for injured forward Ales Hemsky with Dustin Penner and Sam Gagner.

Gilbert Brule is just 22-years old. The age when some future NHL stars are just finishing their college careers.

It's possible this "bust" could turn into one of the more lopsided trades this decade and should be on your fantasy teams radars in both deep single year leagues and keeper leagues.




Ray Irwin writes for www.SchoolYourPool.com, the most complete fantasy hockey advice website on the internet. Featuring player and prospect rankings and interviews, daily starting goalies, buy low/sell high, injury reports, goalie carousel, and lots more...come on over to www.schoolyourpool.com and Get Educated!

Enter the www.SchoolYourPool.com Pick'Em pool to win great shwag, including a John Tavares autographed jersey!

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