Brule aims to continue breakout

DEREK VAN DIEST, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 PM ET

It was considered a breakout season, although like a golfer Gilbert Brule felt he left a few shots out on the course.

Had the Edmonton Oilers centre not been hit hard by a flu bug, suffered an ankle injury and inexplicably been passed over for ice time, the career numbers he put up would have been even better.

“Personally, it was a bit of a rollercoaster with the flu and then the ankle injury at the end of the year,” said Brule. “I think I had a pretty decent offensive season despite missing a few games. This year I’m looking at having a more consistent year and hopefully play all 82 games.”

Brule, 23, finished last season with 17 goals and 20 assists in 65 games.

He had 14 goals in total from parts of five previous seasons with the Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, who had selected him sixth overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

“Last year was a step in the right direction,” said Brule. “I was very happy to be able to find my game and gain that confidence on the ice.”

Brule proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Oilers last season.

He was one of the only players on the roster to improve his point totals from the previous year.

At one point during the season, Brule was playing so well, questions were raised as to why he wasn’t being used more.

“I never wondered about that,” Brule said. “Sometimes when you’re having a good game, you want to be out there more and you’re eager to get out there. But sometimes you have to be patient, because there are other guys on the team that have to get their opportunity.”

This year Brule is hoping to continue his progression. He is looking to improve on his offensive output, and take on a bigger leadership role with the club having disposed of a number of veterans in the off-season.

“I like that they want us to take more of a leadership role,” Brule said. “I’m going into my fifth year of pro now and I’ve played a lot of NHL games and I’ve been around for a while. I think I have a lot to share with the younger guys.”

If anything Brule will prove to be a good role model.

This off-season the local product endeared himself to the community by donating $10,000 to two-year-old Maddox Flynn who needed an operation to fix a rare malformation in his face.

Brule even flew out to New York, where the procedure was taking place, to spend time with Flynn and his family.

Skating on a line with Magnus Paajarvi and Andrew Cogliano at training camp, Brule will likely centre one of the Oilers bottom two lines this season.

Along with an increase in offensive production, he’ll be depended on to excel in a checking role.

“If you look at our camp and our possible roster that’s here, we have a lot of offensive guys and a lot of young guys,” he said. “We have a lot of speed, it’s really good to see, we’re going to have a fast hockey team.

“I feel great going into the season. I feel just like the rest of the organization, I’m excited about the upcoming season,”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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