NHL Free Agency: The Ballad of Gilbert Brule and the NHL

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NHL Free Agency: The Ballad of Gilbert Brule and the NHL
Chris Relke/Getty Images
Gilbert Brule captained one of the 2005 CHL top prospects team, what happened?

There are few NHL players that have had similar experiences to Gilbert Brule. If you are unfamiliar with them, prepare to be astounded by the sad story that is, Gilbert Brule. 

Firstly, this is by no means an attack against Brule. 

In fact, it's the opposite.

Gilbert Brule was a once-in-a-blue-moon talent coming out of the CHL (Canadian Hockey League), but his performance in the NHL would have you forget this was ever the case. 

This is to remind everyone what Gilbert Brule could have been. 

 

CHL Accolades 

2003-2004: CHL All-Rookie Team, WHL Rookie of the Year 

2004-2005: WHL First All-Star Team, WHL and CHL Scholastic Player of the Year

2005-2006: WHL Second All-Star Team, WHL Playoff MVP, Memorial Cup Leading Scorer, Memorial Cup All-Star Team.

These are by no means average performances, and his performance in the Memorial Cup in 2005-2006 was borderline inhuman.

In only five games, Brule had six goals and six assists for a total of 12 points. His team lost in the semi-finals, but went on to win the Memorial Cup the following year without him.   

If only that was his worst heartache. 

Another career moment, fighting Corey Perry on March 12, 2012

 

Post-NHL Draft

Brule performed well enough to earn himself a top-10 draft spot. He was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets sixth overall in 2005. This article from 2006 by Chris Leary of Hockey's Future truly depicts the expectations for Brule in the NHL. 

However, he suffered an injury early in the '05-'06 season and was sent back to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL.

This was actually the year he took his team to the Memorial Cup and lost, while leading the tournament in scoring.

If only he carried that success into the NHL...

Cue the sigh.

 

Looking Ahead... 

Since then, injury problems have been the main issue for the young center. His medical record suggests that he will continue to find difficulty in playing a full NHL season. 

Not to mention, his size has always been a problem in making the transition to the NHL. 

Brule has already played for three different NHL teams, while spending most of his time with three different AHL teams.

This was not the future he expected. 

Should an NHL team take a chance on Brule?

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Now, at only the age of 25, Brule finds himself on the free agency market without an NHL home in sight. 

So, what does this mean for his future in the NHL? Well, he hasn't proven very much at the professional level and continues to be a let down no matter where he goes.

Unless there's a team willing to take a chance on the injury-prone, underachieving center, Brule will forever be remembered as the player that could have been, but never was. 

Hopefully his most memorable moment as a professional hockey player will not be picking up a hitch-hiking Bono from the band U2.  

Time will tell.  

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