News from the Twitterverse this morning that the Phoenix Coyotes have claimed Gilbert Brule on re-entry waivers from the Oilers. Brule had been recalled from the Barons yesterday to help fill the holes in the Oilers' lineup resulting from injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. As a result of the claim the Oilers will be responsible for half of the $880k still owed to Brule this season.
In Brule the Coyotes get a former sixth overall pick who has shown, in brief stretches, the ability to play at the NHL level at a very affordable price and with no commitment beyond this season. Two season ago Brule scored 17 goals and 20 assists in 65 games for the Oilers and was awarded a two-year deal from the team worth $1.85M annually in the offseason. Last year the percentages caught up with Brule and he finished the season with just nine points in 41 games, missing half the season with a variety of maladies ranging from illness, concussion, and upper body according to the Oilers injury report. This past offseason when Brule was originally included as part of the Ryan Smyth deal only to have that deal killed when the LA Kings were unable to buyout Brule information leaked that it may have been depression keeping Brule out of the Oilers lineup.
Getting claimed off waivers is good for Brule in that it gives him a chance to try and re-establish himself as an NHL player before his contract expires at the end of the season. Even if he had cleared waivers his time in Edmonton would have, in all likelihood, been short so this is a good break for him. Away from the ice Brule is a genuinely good person so I really hope he can make the most of this opportunity as it could easily be his last best shot. In 27 games with the Barons this season Brule has scored eight goals and added ten assists so his success with the Coyotes is anything but guaranteed but given the right situation - like had in Edmonton alongside Dustin Penner in 2009/10 - he might be able to stick with the Coyotes for the rest of the season. I'll certainly be pulling for him.
But what's good for Brule isn't neccessarily good for fans of the Barons. Rather than losing a player for a short duration to the Oilers they've now lost him outright. With the Barons battling for top spot in the Western Conference this is a less than ideal time to lose a player of Brule's skill. If the Oilers choose to recall another Baron to fill the spot intended for Brule (perhaps Teemu Hartikainen will make a return apperance in Edmonton) it will only serve to further deplete the clubs forward corps as they prepare themselves for a three game home stand this weekend.