The Columbus Blue Jackets signed center Gilbert Brule (pronounced jihl-BAIR BROO-lay), the sixth overall pick in the 2005 National Hockey League Entry Draft, to a three-year contract, club President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced today. Brule will begin the season on the Blue Jackets 23-man roster.
"Gilbert is a talented young player who worked really hard and played extremely well for us during the preseason, and I'm very happy for him and for our organization that we were able to get this deal done," said MacLean. "He earned a spot on our roster and will be a tremendous compliment to the young talent in our organization."
Brule appeared in six preseason games with the Blue Jackets and led the team in scoring with two goals and three assists for five points, along with six penalty minutes. He tallied 39-48-87 and 169 penalty minutes in 70 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2004-05, finishing fifth in the Western Hockey League in goals and third in points. He was named to the WHL First All-Star Team and was the 2004-05 Canadian Hockey League Scholastic Player of the Year.
"It has been a lifelong dream to play in the NHL, and I am so happy this day has come and I'm a Blue Jacket," said Brule. "I'm going to work hard and hopefully I will play here all year and do whatever I can to help this team continue to improve and win games."
The 5-10, 175-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta was the Most Valuable Player at the 2005 Top Prospects Game as he collected three goals and an assist to lead Team Cherry to an 8-4 win. In 2003-04, Brule was named the WHL's Rookie of the Year after registering 25-35-60 and 100 penalty minutes in 67 games with the Giants. He entered this year's draft as the fifth-rated North American Skater in Central Scouting's final player rankings.
Columbus begins its fifth NHL campaign on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Washington Capitals at the MCI Center. The Blue Jackets play their home opener on, Oct. 7 against the defending Western Conference champion Calgary Flames. Game time at Nationwide Arena is 7 p.m. Both games will be televised live on FSN Ohio beginning at 6:30 p.m. with IceBreaker, a 30-minute pre-game show.