SUN Hockey Pool

Brule aiming to stay

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Gilbert Brule hopes he's back in the NHL for good.

The Oilers forward is expected to be in the lineup for the season opener Saturday against Calgary after spending the majority of last season in the AHL.

"It's tough to go from the NHL down to the American Hockey League," said Brule, who saw some action with the Columbus Blue Jackets after being selected sixth overall in the 2005 draft. "It was a big change and adjustment, especially going from Vancouver to Columbus to Edmonton and then to Springfield. Playing in all those cities in the last few years have been a big change. But, I'm very happy to be here for now and I hope I stay."

Acquired from the Blue Jackets in exchange for Raffi Torres, Brule had an impressive enough training camp to warrant an extended stay with the Oilers. The 22-year-old has a new-found confidence in his game and is expected to centre one of the Oilers' checking lines this season.

"I think during the hockey season your confidence can go up or down," Brule said. "That instability was tough last year -- I wasn't comfortable going up and down all year. I'm hoping to find a home here and my confidence will go up from there."

Brule's game has evolved from a high-scoring forward in junior to a reliable checking centre. His ability to make the transformation is the reason he's still here.

"I'm learning everything I can about the game," Brule said. "Going from an offensive to checking-type player is a good thing to get into my game and put into my bag of tricks. I think my skating ability will allow me to do that. I just have to develop my defensive side of the game and my positioning as well."

Brule finished the exhibition season with two assists. He also got into a spirited fight with Jannik Hansen in a 5-4 OT win against Vancouver Sunday.


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