It appears Gilbert Brule’s long, strange trip through the NHL is about to take another turn.
According to Vancouver’s News1130, the 25-year-old RFA won’t be tendered a qualifying offer from the Phoenix Coyotes, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Player agent Gerry Johansson said he’ll meet with Phoenix GM Don Maloney at this weekend’s draft in the hope of reaching a new deal. Brule’s in the final season of a two-year deal that paid $1.85 million annually, so it’s likely the Coyotes simply weren’t interested in matching that.
Brule’s career has been tumultuous since Columbus took him sixth overall at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He fell out of favor with the Blue Jackets and Oilers before landing with the Coyotes and, in a February interview with the Vancouver Sun, alluded to some off-ice issues that plagued the early parts of his career:
Asked if he suffered from depression, Brule said: “I don’t know what you want to call it. I just wasn’t happy with things. On the ice, hockey is obviously the biggest part of my life. In every aspect, it affects you, especially when you’re not doing well or not doing as well as you think you should.”
Brule said his issues stem from family, but he is keeping those issues private.
In September, before the Oilers’ waived him through the NHL and sent Brule to their minor-league team in Oklahoma City, he told the Edmonton Journal: “The things I’ve had to go through with my family have been very, very tough. I would never wish them on anyone. It has definitely affected me in a very negative way and I wasn’t feeling very good about myself.”
Brule performed well in just under a half season with the Coyotes, scoring 5G-9A-14PTS in 33 regular season games with a plus-7 rating. He also chipped in with a pair of goals during Phoenix’s surprising run to the Western Conference finals.