Given the apparent lack of activity during this off season relative to the Edmonton Oilers roster, it appears that both Gilbert Brule and Marc-Antoine Pouliot (MAP) will be competing during training camp for the 3c/4c roster positions. With the nicknames of crème brûlée and Poo, it seems like both could benefit from some re-branding, lol.
Though both Pouliot and Brule were first round draft picks in their respective years, so far they’ve both suffered from various injuries and have yet to establish themselves with a clear roster position in the NHL. Fortunately for both of them, so far, there’s a perfect storm converging which may help one or both of them find a role in the 3C/4C positions. First, the Oilers have left the a gaping hole in the middle with respect to the 3c/4c positions since we traded Stoll and Reasoner. Secondly Brodziak was traded this summer at the time of the draft for a pick which opened up the roster position at 3C.
To my recollection alone, Pat Quinn was quoted at the time of his hiring as the coach of The Edmonton Oilers as saying that he likes a team to be strong down the middle. If this the case, it just might be hard to envision Pat Quinn playing Pouliot and Brule at the 3C and 4C positions respectively. Without a roster change, what options are there than to play one of O’Sullivan or Cogliano at 3C with Pouliot at 4C? With Cogliano’s faceoff percentage around 37% and with his recent quotes to the effect that he would like to play in the top six–even if it means playing wing, then this leaves O’Sullivan. For some reason, I’m not thrilled at the idea of either one of these two players playing at 3C.
Tale of the tape:
Gilbert Brule: 5’10”, 180 lbs, 22 years old [Drafted 1/6 by Columbus in 2005]
Marc-Antoine Pouliot: 6’1″, 195 lbs, 24 years old [Drafted 1/22 by Edmonton in 2003]
What do these numbers tell us? With respect to Gilbert Brule, not a heck of a lot given that he only played in 11 NHL games last season. As for Pouliot, he’s currently our second best option in terms of being a potential faceoff man after Shawn Horcoff. In short, Pouliot played 63 games last season with fairly decent if unremarkable numbers. He didn’t bleed too many goals or scoring chances against while playing similar opposition to Cogliano.
What’s the biggest question? Right now, there’s still a reasonable amount of uncertainty as to whether or not the Oilers roster will go into next season unchanged. Earlier this summer, there was hope that we might sign one or both of Malhotra / Betts, but so far there’s little indication that this may actually happen.