Schremp is no fool

Players with more dangle and higher point totals than Rob Schremp have been busts in the NHL because they had skills worth a million bucks, but brains you’d be hard-pressed to get 10 cents for.

How many talented but stubborn prospects have failed to live up to the expectations of draft day because they never figured it out? “It” being the ability to grasp a simple premise — give them what they want, because if you don’t, somebody else will.

If the coach says you have to get stronger, get stronger. If he says you have to get faster, get faster. If he insists you have to be more reliable defensively with no regard for the fact you scored 50 goals in The Dub or the OHL (it’s 70 goals in the Q because everybody except fourth-liners gets 35), then get to stepping and figure out how.

In Schremp’s case, the coach, Craig MacTavish, has been saying all those things since the Oilers drafted him 25th overall from the London Knights in 2004. Apparently, Schremp’s been listening.

That makes him talented AND smart.

Doing it right

“There’s confidence building in my game and confidence coming from the coaching staff as well,” said Schremp, who has three assists and a plus-2 rating since being recalled from Springfield of the AHL. “I mean, this is the most I’ve played. It’s been a good start.”

Three games in his latest NHL stint does not a career make, but it’s obvious that Schremp is sharp enough to understand his best chance at long-term employment in the NHL — and cashing the cheques that come with it — is to listen to what he’s told and provide what’s asked for.

At 22, Schremp has it figured out. Given his reputation going into the draft — an overblown bum-rap as a bad act that contributed to him plummeting out of the top 10 — he seemed a prime candidate to become one of those guys who blew it because he figured he knew more than the organization that drafted him.

“Hey, MacT, shove defensive reliability up your crack. I’m Robbie Freakin’ Schremp, Schrempy, the Schrempmeister. I had 145 points in London, so I’m gonna become a Selke Trophy candidate? Maybe YOU had to backcheck, but me? Skating? Pfft. Get serious.” You get the drift.

“Defensive hockey doesn’t take away from your offence,” said Schremp. “It only adds. It’s just learning how to do it.

“I never learned. As a kid, I just played offence. In junior, I just played offence. I always had the puck. I mean, look at our team in London. We always had the puck, you know what I mean?

“Then, when you get thrown into pro, it’s like you have to learn. That’s been my last two years in the minors.”

Now, after taking advice to heart Schremp didn’t always want to hear, here he is.

Funny how that works

“This is the last year of my contract,” Schremp said. “I want to play some hockey and I don’t want to go to the minors. I don’t want to be there. I’ve had enough of it.

“I feel I put in the work down there. I think I can help at this level. My point of view is I want to be here for the year.”

It goes without saying Schremp needs to keep doing what he’s been doing to stick into the New Year. When Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson return from injuries, MacTavish will have some decisions to make.

But, by buying in instead of whining that he’d never get a fair shake from MacTavish — I was one of those people who thought Schremp and MacT would never find common ground and predicted Schremp would be traded at the June draft — No. 88 might now have an ally.

“In the grand scheme of things, there’s a way to play and there’s the kind of player he wants me to be,” Schremp said of MacTavish. “When he sees that, I get my shot.

“He wants to make sure I’m ready and that I can have a long career and not be up and down. It was frustrating at times, but it takes time to mature and grow and realize what the game plan is.

“It’s not the coach not wanting to give you a shot or hating you, it’s that they have a game plan. The coach wants to have players succeed and have a career. A couple years ago I guess you could say I was a long shot, now I’m right here and pretty close to being a good player.”

Around the rink

— Dustin Penner, who has been nagged by a knee injury that’s significant enough he had an MRI last week, didn’t skate today. Neither did Sheldon Souray, an absence MacTavish characterized as a chance to rest some “wear and tear.”

— Gagner (mild concussion) won’t play against the Panthers Thursday and Nilsson (shoulder) as listed as very doubtful.

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Gord

    @ Fiveandagame:
    I realize we need to move a goalie, but I think one of those guys will be need to packaged with a goalie to entice someone to take a goalie. As you know, there isn't much of a market for goalies and last year teams had to give goalies away to move them.

  • Fiveandagame

    @ Gord:

    I know I am not Robin or Gregor. BUT in my opinion before the Oilers consider moving any of those guys they need to trade a goaltender.

    First trade the Oilers make this season will be with one of their goaltenders. That in and of itself opens a roster spot for Shremp/Brule. And with much Higher pedigree and time invested, if Brule keeps up his play, the first guy sent down will be Reddox.

    The Oilers have a plethora of young talent and they aren't about to peddle it around to other GM's for the sake of a roster spot.

    Great article BTW Robin. Having you Gregor dishing your inside scoops here is wicked awesome.

  • Gord

    Gregor/Robin – is it reasonable to say now that Schremp and Brule are here that there will be a trade made when Gagner and Nilsson come back? I assume Gagner would be safe from a trade and that one or two of Cogliano, Nilsson, Brule or Schremp would be moved if a trade did go down – any word if there is any interest out there for any of those four?
    Another question – is there any long term plans for Cole? Has his name come up on any trade romours?

  • Jason Gregor

    Chris,

    What is it that Gratton brings that is so great? Size? That is it. Well in case you haven't noticed Cogliano's speed separates him from the rest, as does Brule's grit and tenacity.

    Saying Nilsson and Schremp are the same is very accurate. I don't think there is room for both of them long term. I'd argue there isn't room for them and Pouliot, but we will see.

    Gratton doesn't play the role that any of them do, if he comes here you are saying he can take Brodziak's icetime, and to me that wouldn't make sense. Brodziak is younger, faster and has more offensive upside right now.

    The intangible that Gratton brings would be is bit of a mean streak, but even that is rare nowadays. And the Leafs grabbed him before the Oilers would have been able to anyways. But I spoke with a member of the organization who said at this time, they had no interest.

    What the Oilers need is a robust player, who can forecheck, create emotion and contribute 8-11 goals a season. Harder to find than you think. Of course they need a sniper, but that is a pipedream for another day.

  • Chris

    I'm also talking about size, aggression, intangibles, etc. Yes they are all different. But they are also all the same. A team needs a variety of players with individual dimension to their game. I like all these players, but we have too many of them. I would have packaged some of them up for some size, and experience. Every single one of those boys is a better player than Gratton. Doesn't change the fact that the Oilers could use a player like Gratton. I hope they all become superstars; but remember the lesson of the 05 Rangers.

  • Chris wrote:

    Every person is unique (like a snowflake and all that s#!T). But between scouting and coaching it seems that the organizational goal of the Oilers is to have all 15 forwards (minus Hemsky) stamped out of the same mould. I can hardly tell Nilsson, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, Schremp, and Pouliot apart. They could all swap equipment, drive each others cars without adjusting the mirrors, check, skate, and avoid hits wearing the wrong numbers and anyone sitting more than twenty rows up would never know. That is why Schremp will fit in. That is why Nilsson is working on his defensive game. That is why the Oil will pass on Gratton. That is why this team is “easy to play against”. I’m happy for Robbie. But we already have five of him!

    If you can't tell Cogliano from Gagner, and Cogliano from Nilsson, or Brule from Schremp, and Schremp from Pouliot, you need to pay closer attention. I get your point when it comes to the approximate skill level offensively and defensively, but you know exactly what to expect from any of these players game in and game out, whether or not they're performing at their best.

  • Chris

    Every person is unique (like a snowflake and all that s#!T). But between scouting and coaching it seems that the organizational goal of the Oilers is to have all 15 forwards (minus Hemsky) stamped out of the same mould. I can hardly tell Nilsson, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, Schremp, and Pouliot apart. They could all swap equipment, drive each others cars without adjusting the mirrors, check, skate, and avoid hits wearing the wrong numbers and anyone sitting more than twenty rows up would never know. That is why Schremp will fit in. That is why Nilsson is working on his defensive game. That is why the Oil will pass on Gratton. That is why this team is "easy to play against". I'm happy for Robbie. But we already have five of him!