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2010 NHL Free Agency: Oilers forward Gilbert Brule could get a big raise in arbitration

Jul 23, 2010, 11:00 PM EDT

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gilbertbrulearb.jpgDespite fancy mathematical tools, it’s more or less impossible to truly measure grit or hustle. Going further, modern stats like Corsi ratings are probably not being uttered in salary arbitration cases. Instead, I’d imagine that the proceedings are dominated by simple stats such as points and maybe time on ice.

For that reason, hockey people are expecting Edmonton Oilers center Gilbert Brule to get a substantial raise if his case goes to arbitration as planned on August 3. The Sporting News has more on the case, which also includes references to hockey writer Jim Matheson.

To Matheson’s mind, there was an interesting comparable this week for Brule — Clarke MacArthur, who got a one-year, $2.4 million decision. MacArthur’s joy expired shortly afterward when the Thrashers, balking at giving him a 300 percent raise and having player options, walked away from the deal.

Would Oilers GM Steve Tambellini consider doing the same on Aug. 3 if Brule, who was paid $800,000 last season, gets his previous salary tripled?

While pondering that, consider the comparables. You’re turn, Mr. Matheson:

MacArthur scored 35 points last season, split between the Buffalo Sabres and Atlanta. He has scored 88 points in 208 NHL games.

Brule, who turns 24 on Jan. 1, had 37 points last season with the Oilers. The Edmonton forward has 72 points in 222 NHL games.

Want another one? Consider this, Matheson says:

When the Toronto Maple Leafs gave 23-year-old forward Nikolai Kulemin a two-year deal recently for an average salary of $2.35 million, that set the bar for the Brules and MacArthurs of the world. Kulemin had 36 points this past season.

Those are, indeed, two reasonable parallels. While MacArthur has more points in less NHL games, the two players are still fairly comparable. The Grinder blog leans toward the Edmonton Oilers accepting such an arbitration reward, although that would be a pretty substantial payment for the good-yet-slightly-disappointing Brule.

Then again, if Brule uses some of that cash to continue making headlines for charity work, then maybe we should root for a big reward.

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