December 16 2008 02:00PM
Before all the Schrempnatics start cursing, let me say this: he isn’t good enough to be a regular threat in the NHL. Robert Nilsson is just as gifted offensively and skill-wise, but he is a much better skater. Schremp still doesn’t back off D-men at any point on the ice.
Three assists in four games was good, but not good enough. Right now if he plays on the team, he plays in place of Nilsson. He won’t take Penner’s spot on the first line LW, nor can he check like Moreau as the third line LW, and playing him on the fourth line makes no sense.
Schremp has improved immensely since we saw him late last year. I know that he really wants to be an everyday NHLer, and that’s why I don’t think his reassignment today will destroy him. Is he pissed, disappointed and ready to get a MacT voodoo doll? Of course he is, but if he looks in the mirror he also knows that he still has to improve his foot speed and lose some bad habits.
Too often the minute he reaches the attacking blue line, he stops moving his feet, looks for a pass, or peels off toward the boards. He has to bring more diversity to his game.
I’ve only seen Schremp live less than 15 times in his career, so I decided to ask five scouts who have seen him multiple times. I asked them all the same question, and all of them work for opposing teams. Since it can be considered tampering to comment on other teams’ players I will keep them anonymous.
Do you think Rob Schremp is ready to be an everyday offensive threat in the NHL?
Scout #1 -- has watched Schremp 100+ games in junior and pro
No. His game lacks too many facets. He isn’t fast enough, strong enough or committed enough. I have seen a big improvement this year, but too often his game is predictable. He has great vision and doesn’t lack confidence with the puck, but he never forces the defence to back off. He is great on the PP, but once again he looks to pass way too often.
Scout #2 -- has seen him only as an AHLer 50+ times
Not today, but if he continues to work hard and improve his skating, he has a chance. He will need to find a team that can protect him five-on-five. I question his willingness to compete for the puck and rarely does he finish a check. He isn’t skilled enough to get away with that. His passing is his best asset. He could easily pass at the NHL level, but there has to be an improvement in other areas of his game.
Scout #3 -- has seen him in junior and pro an estimated 60 times
He was so good in junior that he didn’t need the speed or grit; because once he got the puck he would make a play every time. People don’t realize how good those top two lines were in London. It wasn’t just Robbie who made them go. He had great teammates and I think it hurt many of them, because they were so good as a group that some of them got overrated as individuals. I like that he doesn’t lack confidence, but he will need to really work on his footwork, strength and outside shot if he wants to become an NHL player. He’s in tough because if he doesn’t score he doesn’t have the other elements to his game that allows him to contribute.
Scout #4 -- has only seen him in the AHL 30ish times
I think he’s really close. I’ve seen a marked improvement from last season, especially with his defensive play and his consistency. Last year he would be invisible for an entire game, but this year in every game I’ve seen (6), he made an impact or great play every period. His biggest challenge is that Edmonton has lots of forwards just like him who are small and skilled but not aggressive. He thinks the game very well and isn’t afraid to have the puck, but he needs to get quicker so he can make more plays when he has the puck. If he gets a half step faster I think he can become a 20 goal, 60 point player.
Scout #5 -- has seen him play over 100 games between junior and pro
He used to dominate games in junior, but like many offensive guys, he hasn’t been able to continue that. He is an incredible passer, and believes he can make any pass. The problem is his game has become one-dimensional. He never drives to the net, rarely goes to the tough areas and almost never wins a one-on-one battle. His lack of top-end speed makes it hard to become a true offensive threat in the NHL, because he lacks the other physical tools that can make up for the lack of speed. He is still young and I’ve seen a big improvement in his first step, but unless he gets quicker I don’t see him becoming anything more than a fringe player. Look at the small forwards who excel in the NHL. They can all skate and that makes up for their lack of size, until that improves I would be surprised to see him make a lasting impression.
Unfortunately not a glowing report, but scouts have been wrong before and Schremp is still only 22. It’s clear that he needs to improve his foot speed and his overall strength before he becomes a regular in the NHL.
The other reason I don’t see Schremp becoming a scorer in Edmonton is his competition. He has already been passed by Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner on the depth chart, and with Jordan Eberle in the organization his window of opportunity gets smaller by the day. Schremp has made strides since being drafted 25th overall in 2004, but I don’t see #88 becoming a regular scorer for the Edmonton Oilers. I hope I’m wrong.