Last season undid most of that optimism: Injuries, illness and ineffectiveness marred his 41-game campaign during which he scored just nine points.
The summer was … surreal. Picking up Bono from U2 as a hitchhiker and then getting a shoutout from the rock god at a concert gig in Edmonton. (Autographed on Brule's backstage pass by Bono: "My hero Gilbert.") Then, in late June, Brule appeared to have been traded to the Los Angeles Kings with a low draft pick for Ryan Smyth.
His $1.85 million contract would have been traded, waived or bought out by the Kings. But according to the LA Times, the Kings claimed the Oilers didn't file proper paperwork to certify Brule had recovered from a concussion. GM Dean Lombardi rejected Brule being part of the deal, saying: "It makes no sense for me to lose this player and lose the flexibility I need to replace him. And that's where it broke down."
(Brule was replaced in the trade by Colin Fraser, and Mulletgate began.)
On Sunday, Brule's journey took another unlikely twist. OK, it was likely to anyone who's seen him play or that can read an Edmonton depth chart, but it's still always jarring to see a former No. 6 overall pick cut in the preseason as Brule was.
The most notable cut made today is former 6th overall draft choice Gilbert Brule, who is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $1.8M whether he plays at the NHL or AHL level. Brule struggled to stay healthy last year, recording just 9 points in 41 games. He started his pre-season with an underwhelming game in Saskatoon versus Chicago, that was highlighted by a direct giveaway that led to a Blackhawks goal. His pre-season ended against Minnesota on Friday night, in a game that saw him take a cross-checking penalty that negated a game winning goal by Darcy Hordichuk late in the 3rd period.
Brule will be on waivers for a period of 24 hours, where he will be available to any NHL team that wishes to claim his contract. Also waived by the team today are forwards Josh Green, Ryan Keller and Ryan O'Marra. All 4 players will report immediately to Oklahoma City of the AHL if they clear waivers. Forward Teemu Hartikainen, who isn't subject to the waiver process, has been assigned directly.
If Brule ends up in OKC, he follows players like Sheldon Souray and Zack Stortini (as noted by Tyler Dellow) that have ended up making millions in the AHL for the Oilers. As if you needed another reminder of the heinous mismanagement that's delivered several losing seasons to Edmonton -- and, as NHL luck would have it, a bounty of top draft picks … hopefully none that are buried in the AHL after seven years.
- Gilbert Brule
- Edmonton Oilers