Sunday Minor League Report

This is Charlie Simmer. He’s one of just a few examples I can think of when looking for NHL impact players who spent a prolonged period in the minor leagues. Simmer played over 250 games in the minors (and had fabulous scoring numbers throughout, including 23 goals in 42gp, 32 goals in 51gp and 42 goals in 75gp) before finally getting his chance to make a mark in the NHL.

Other more recent examples would be Daniel Briere (he spent 170 games in the AHL before establishing himself) and of course much was made of Jason Spezza’s 43 game minor league audition a few years ago.

Let’s start with some absolute truths: MOST impact players spend little or no time in the minor leagues. A quick look at Oilers history tells us this much is true. Here’s a list of Oiler draft picks (forwards only) who have established themselves at the NHL level since draft day 1990 with their minor league GP totals:

  1. Jason Arnott (1st rd-1993) 0 games
  2. Ales Hemsky (1st rd-2001) 0 games
  3. Mike Comrie (3rd rd-1999) 0 games
  4. Andrew Cogliano (1st rd-2005) 0 games
  5. Sam Gagner (1st rd-2007) 0 games
  6. Ryan Smyth (1st rd-1994), 9 games
  7. Boyd Devereaux (1st rd-1996), 14 games
  8. Shawn Horcoff (4th rd-1998), 26 games
  9. Miro Satan (5th rd- 1993), 39 games
  10. Martin Rucinsky (1st rd-1991), 42 games
  11. Kirk Maltby (3rd rd-1992), 73 games
  12. Jarret Stoll (2nd rd-2002), 76 games
  13. Georges Laraque (2nd rd-1995), 144 games
  14. Fernando Pisani (8th rd-1996), 172 games
  15. Kyle Brodziak (7th rd-2003), 173 games
  16. Tyler Wright (1st rd-1991), 176 games
  17. Jason Chimera (5th rd-1997), 233 games
  • Arnott and Hemsky should be given extra credit for making the NHL at 19 and Gagner should get some credit too for doing this at age 18. It’s a rare thing.

This shows exactly what I’m talking about. Pretty much all of the players who have been or will be on All-Star teams played less than half a season in the minors. I’ll use Rucinsky as the outer marker here. It’s also no real surprise most of the players on the list above Rucinsky were high picks, 1st rounders, certainly in the top 100 overall in their draft year (Satan was 111).

So, can we agree it is a rare thing for an impact player to spend more than half a season in the minors? Let’s turn it around and make a positive statement:

  • With very few exceptions, NHL teams elevate quality players as soon as they are deemed NHL ready without regard to minor league experience.

Some people don’t do homework during high school and hit a wall first year college, some have to cram for a Grade 6 spelling test (o go to hell, I was a late birthday) and still others tune out the teacher early on and consider school a social thing.

The guys we’re talking about graduate without having homework. No “please stay after class”, no calls home to talk to Mom about your attitude (again, go to hell it’s none of your damn business) in fact no worries at all. They get a new car in Grade 10 and romp through the girls in town, often driving by with the prettiest one as you bike through town delivering the Star-Phoenix (don’t make me come over there, stop pushing me on this) and look forward to an evening of picking weeds and washing radishes while buddy and his Camaro are letting nature take its course out at the lake. Some of us are Sam Gagner, some of us are Kyle Brodziak and the fact is that most of us don’t make the list at all.

Recently the Rob Schremp fan group have become more and more frustrated as the Syracuse Sniper rots in Springfield (once home to Eddie Shore who would probably have tied Schremp to a Mack truck and had him skate laps pulling it) and Cogliano, Gagner, Nilsson and Brodziak establish themselves as NHL players. Some are convinced that Schremp’s time in the organization has come and gone and it’s time to deal him, while others blame MacT for elevating players who should be in junior (Gagner) for reasons that have little to do with winning games.

I understand those feelings. It can be unfair sometimes to see people you know get things seemingly handed to them while others have to deliver the Star-Phoenix, er, spend time in the minor leagues and wait for a chance that may not come.

What would a player have to do in order to earn a spot? Can Rob Schremp learn something Charlie Simmer showed us 30 years ago? Let’s look at Simmer’s minor league seasons by age:

  1. Age 20: 47gp, 12-29-41 (.872ppg)
  2. Age 21: 42gp, 23-16-39 (.929ppg)
  3. Age 22: 51gp, 32-30-62 (1.22ppg)
  4. Age 23: 75gp, 42-41-83 (1.11ppg)
  5. Age 24: 39gp, 13-23-36 (.923ppg)

That final season in the minors Simmer’s minor league team (ironically the Springfield Indians) saw their goal scoring totals fall way off (349 to 289) so he was still producing well. If you look at those numbers it’s clear that Simmer was a good scoring minor leaguer by 21 and then just waited for a bad organization (the Seals) to elevate him and when that team began collapsing due to money problems he needed to establish himself with the new team (Los Angeles) and it took longer than it should have (1.5 seasons) but the Kings weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer at the time.

They kept him on the farm because of his footspeed. Simmer had good size and a terrific shot (very accurate, his NHL shooting percentage in 80-81 was 32.7, 56/171) but he was a poor skater. He worked hard on that area and although he never became even NHL average (that’s being kind) he delivered offensively in every season he played in and had to come back from major injuries a few times (he broked his leg badly early in his NHL career, maybe 1981).

Let’s look at Schremp’s pro career so far:

  1. Age 20: 69gp, 17-36-53 (.768ppg)
  2. Age 21: 45gp, 11-32-43 (.956ppg)

Schremp’s team in 06-07 scored 276 goals and the Springfield Falcons are on track to score 216 this season so Schremp’s totals are actually quite impressive. He was in on 19% of the 06-07 offense for the Penguins and this season it’s up to 34%. That’s on par with what Horcoff and Hemsky are doing for the Oilers at this time.

The Edmonton Oilers decided to move Schremp to the wing and he’s been adjusting to that in the minors and they also worry over his skating which apparently is less of an issue on the wing. Plus (as indicated above) he is progressing nicely as a scorer. One of Simmer’s strengths was that he was a terrific team player, had a reputation of being a good guy and a leader (he did have a terrible contract squabble that got him traded to Boston) and he certainly delivered as a scorer in the NHL.

I think Rob Schremp will do the same. He may never be an outscorer and that’s an issue for another day, but it looks like he’s done his homework and is about ready for the Camaro.

The modern Terri Welles is out there. :-)

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23 Responses to "Sunday Minor League Report"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Hah, I was going to make a crack about Simmer’s wife and you beat me to it.

    My only question about Schremp for next year is where in the lineup they will find a spot for him. If they stand pat in the FA market which I believe they will, then the only way I see him getting a chance is if they have the following lineup:

    Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
    Torres-Stoll-Brodziak
    Moreau-Cogliano-Pisani
    Nilsson-Gagner-Schremp

    Now this supposes a number of things, including my premise that they aren’t going to make wholesale changes this summer. They can’t move Torres and I don’t think they can move Stoll with Horcoff unsigned and only kids left at centre. So I think its a safe bet that this lineup may be what we see – maybe Reddox or someone else slips in there.

    I’d be happier if they picked up a veteran centre like Bonk to play the tough minutes and if they do then Cogliano and Gagner need a winger and maybe this is Schremp’s spot? But then that means giving up on Nilsson and I don’t know that he deserves getting given up on.

    Havign said all of that I think Schremp deserves a shot next autumn and I think he may make it if he gets the minutes and the opportunity.

  2. toqueboy says:

    bd:
    based on progrssion this season ibelieve i’d rather have nillson next year than torres and probably stoll…which is too bad, cause i used to love both of them.

    nillson is showing a much higher upside…ithink there’s a chance that you’re whole second line is playing elsewhere next season…as much as i like brodziak, he duplicates pisani, and it seems like maybe reddox as well…in short, the type of player the oil seem to be able to develop with ease…

    this team requires more grit if we’re going to have any of the kid lines…so i think you hope that a combination of nillson, gagne, cogs and shremp on the second and a fourth that’s built to kill, like jfj, stortini and ?.

    if we’re committed to our farm kids, i just dont see space for guys like torres and stoll…which meas two steps back next year defensively, but two steps forward on offense in a couple years…could you imagine an oiler’s team that scores more than 200 goals?

    my honest reaction to lines is something like

    1 penner-horc-hemmer
    2 nilsson – gagne – FA/shremp
    3 moreau – cogliano – pisani
    4 jfj – stoll – stortini

    brodziak, pouliot, miknov, johnson type fighting it out for for game time

    jfj’s spot could got to brodz, but he’s gotta learn to fly into people instead of just taking up space with a stretched stick…in this situation we use stoll much like mact talked about using horc this year…getting pk, pp, 4th line minutes and gagne filler minutes on 2nd line

    there’s guys i like such as torres, brodz, reasoner, but we need to up skill…i want to cheer for guys like anderson, not buchburger if we’re ever going to be serious about finishing above 8th…

    at forward , this would leave us with torres to get rid of….which a combo of staois and torres could get us that scoring winger KP talked about….it would give us the roster cushion toconsider if we trade some of sugar tits, MP, etc…

    and hopefully we unload tarns and reasoner etc at deadline for some 4ths and buyout rolie…then i think we’re sitting better financially and for the future.

  3. toqueboy says:

    isn’t bonk stoll minus at this point if stoll really appears to be back to batting .275?

  4. Dennis says:

    I didn’t know who the woman was that Lain quoted at the end. For my money, and what I originally thought, was that this was the name of the hottest girl in Lain’s high school days. So I was about to pump him for some stories about her:)

    I could say that the Oilers are showing Schremp some tough love or I could say he’s run into some bad luck given the presence of all of Cogs, Gagner and Nilsson at the big level. To summarize, I think it’s a combination of both.

    As long as Nilsson’s around, I don’t think Schremp’s in the mix but there might also be something to how the Oilers plan on using Cogs and what that could mean as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Oilers roll down the middle next season and I’d keep Stoll for just one more season as a security blanket for the kids. I don’t think Stoll can do what Horc’s doing now or did in ’06 but I think he can bounce back and that this season’s just an ugly blip. But, if the Oilers bring back Stoll, then it’s Schremp vs Nilsson.

    But, if the Oilers go ahead next year and give Cogs the second toughest min job behind Horc, note: this would also mean MacT goes back PVP but work with me on this for a second:) then perhaps Schremp has a chance to play with Nilsson and Gagner on a soft-as-butter-in-california line.

    I doubt that happens though.

    Lots of questions that will determine Schremp’s future next year:

    - What happens with Pitkanen
    - Gilbert
    - Stoll
    - Garon
    - Horc extension

    If I had 50 bucks to throw away and bet on things, I’d wager this:

    - Oilers deal Pitkanen and maybe Pitkanen plus for a winger to play with 89-13 or just 89.

    - Kevin Loweball’s Stoll and hopes he takes it because they honestly still believe in him.

    - Oilers deal Torres. I’m not sure for what but if pressed, I’d say a dman with more experience than Smid and a guy who’s shown more and thus that allows the Oilers to eventually turf Staios.

    All this stuff matters because we’ll see if we need a somewhat cheap guy like Schremp in the lineup. Personally, I think the Oilers have to let go one of 14-18-34. I don’t think you can carry around that many guys making two mill when there are a bunch of guys out there that also can’t score and might be able to keep their heads close to even if you gave them the chance.

    Today Matheson floated a Pitkanen for Frolov or Cammalarei move and Pendergast’s been talking about that scoring winger as well. That guy’s gonna cost some money and with Penner a decent bet for tough min, do we need both Moreau and Torres on the left side? No, we don’t.

    Anyway, interesting summer ahead.

  5. Black Dog says:

    I don’t know Dennis – I can’t see them cutting Stoll loose until they extend Horc. Once they do that they could go Horc/Cogliano/Gagner down the middle with Cogliano between Pisani and either Torres or Moreau and Gagner between Nilsson and Schremp. Still a gamble but I think Nilsson has shown enough to stay and Schremp is almost at the point where they have to give him a whirl.

    I can’t see anyone taking Torres until he proves he is healthy.

    I can’t see anyone taking Pisani with his health issues.

    That leaves Moreau.

    Agreed though – this team has too many guys who score ten goals a year.

    Toqueboy – I can see that lineup you are talking about.

    Bonk was just a name I threw out there – I don’t think Nashville is looking to deal him – anyhow Bonk played the toughest minutes last year for Montreal and did well – if Cogliano is not going to be in that shutdown role and I think we can agree Stoll does not suit that role then they need someone who can play those minutes.

    Oh Dennis – Terri Welles was a Playmate of the Year and Charlie Simmer’s wife

  6. Mr DeBakey says:

    Twice recently
    MacT mentioned size, or lack of it
    while discussing Thoreson’s progress and future

    So
    until a JFJ steps up
    a David Booth is traded for
    a UFA like Adam Hall is signed

    Forget
    bringing in Schremp, Reddox, Omark or
    trading for Tambellini

    I wonder about Chorney

  7. Lowetide says:

    I just googled the name of the hottest girl in my school and google gave me a list of witches hanged in England several hundred years ago. I just KNEW she had something going on. :-)

    Well no one asked me but what I would do is go with a top line of Horcoff-Penner-Hemsky to do the heavy lifting and then find a talented group from what is left to be my second scoring line and give them the soft minutes.

    Looking at the EV numbers posted above maybe Gagner-KP’s new sniper-Nilsson or have Fernando babysit for awhile.

    Third line is the checking line of Cogliano-Moreau-Pisani and then the 4th line is scrub-scrub-scrub with power.

  8. Black Dog says:

    So they trade Schremp then LT? Or does he wait until Nilsson proves he has it or does not?

  9. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: No, I’d put Schremp on the 4line (on the wing) and then get him some PP time too.

    He’s either going to be useful or he’s going to be traded but they need to get him into the lineup so he can raise his value.

    I actually think his value is already pretty high compared to the other prospects. He started the year coming off surgery and he’s having a pretty nice season.

  10. Dennis says:

    LT, nice one:)

    I was hoping your search would yield something a little saucier though. You remember Vic telling that story about getting an email from one of HS buddies that included a porn link involving one of their HS crushes?

    My lineup with 25-16 being dealt for a scoring forward and 14 out the door for young dman that’s better than Smid and as of yet isn’t making a tonne.

    D: 2-5-77-34-44-Young guy acquired for Torres- Vet.

    Note: considering Smid’s now rounding into a defensive guy, my above lineup doesn’t feature any first pass guys other than 77. So, that means the guy we need to get back for Torres has to be a puck mover.

    F:

    27-10-83 – MacT HAS to go back to playing these guys PVP. I think it just makes sense and I wish he was doing it right now to tell you the truth. He’s gotten away from this.

    89-Nilsson or Schremp-Scoring forward: Soft min for sure

    18-13-34 – second toughest min

    JFJ-Pouliot-Brodz – Size and grit from the wings and Pouliot here with his last chance and he’s killing penalties in Reasoner’s place.

    Note: Hemsky moves back to the point with Souray so that Scoring Forward gets to play with 44-83-10-27.

    10-18-34-51 are primary PK with 13-78 getting some time there as well. Also possible depending upon durablity down the stretch, MacT starts to use 83 on the PK.

  11. Dennis says:

    One last note: MY ’09 team misses the playoffs, which means it will be exactly like YOUR ’09 team.

  12. Black Dog says:

    I think he’s had a nice season as well LT. I think he’s going to get his shot.

    Dennis – your moves make sense but I guess the question is who is going to take a flyer on Torres when he just had a season ending knee injury? Unless they move him in TC.

    Pitkanen for Camelleri? I couldn’t see Stoll having much value – do they just cut him loose?

    I’m starting to think that if they dump Pitkanen for futures I’m going to be pretty choked – there had better be quality coming back. And even then all I’m thinking about is Souray making all that money and Smyth and Pitkanen gone becaue they don’t want to pay them the dough.

  13. Dennis says:

    Pat: I’ve been thinking that ever since Souray got here. On a two year deal, I could’ve lived with giving 44 some money. But for five years it impacts everything else we’re going to do.

    And if Lowe moves Pitkanen for less than an impact scorer, cites injury troubles as a determining factor ALL the while not also addressing the hole 25′s departure has left on the D, gawd help all Lowe supporters.

    I will shut down the internet:D

    As for Torres, you gotta look for a team that has a surplus of young D and a dearth of forwards. Nsh is always the best bet when you’re going that way. Maybe the Hawks with Seabrook too if they start to like Barker more and more.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Remember people we may have new owners in Katz so the entire template may change after the sale goes through.

    That said, the Oilers have some nice things on the blueline in Pitkanen and Gilbert and they can cut salary by offloading Staios instead UNLESS there’s a contract issue.

    Which there probably is. Pitkanen had all kinds of issues with the FLyers and much of it iirc had to do with salary and we’ve heard rumblings that he’s asking mondo from the Oildrop.

    Which is incredible since the one area Lowe ALWAYS gives too much to is D.

    But my guess is he’s gone, Matty had the story today and that means the BatCell rang sometime.

  15. Black Dog says:

    Can’t see the Hawks moving Seabrook – can’t see it.

    Man, if they move Pitkanen.

    I picked a bad week to quit drinking.

  16. Black Dog says:

    Obviously kidding about the whole drinking thing.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Quit drinking. There’s two words I’ve never used together in one sentence.

  18. Black Dog says:

    No kidding.

    I have to post a pic I just took once I figure out how to work our new digital camera.

    I helped a friend of ours out a couple of weeks back – got them in touch with someone who got them a great deal on a new vehicle.

    As a thank you they filled my beer fridge. Went to the LCBO and told the man – give us one of everything. Showed up at my house with three boxes of beer.

    Its a little early in the year to take a week’s vacation but I’m afraid it might all go bad.

  19. Lowetide says:

    lol. My wife went on a rant last night because she hadn’t been in the “used beer storage area” for a few weeks.

    Apparently I’m Gretzky.

  20. Black Dog says:

    Nice.

  21. Lowetide says:

    You know it just occurred to me that someone reading that last post of mine might think I’m implying Gretzky had a drinking problem.

    I meant that I’m the “Gretzky” of beer drinking because he lapped the field (his field being points.

    Sorry if anyone misunderstood.

  22. Dennis says:

    Back in early Jan of ’05 I strained or tore a stomach muscle at the gym and the end result was that I wound up with a case of prostatitis. That’s a hard thing to pin down or diagnos and as far as what the doctor could tell, that’s what happened to me. So I had to wait for it to heal on it’s own and even still I can’t do situps more than once every couple of weeks.

    In any case, alcohol sometimes aggrevates this condition and so does having sex. So this happened in the winter of ’05, ie the lockout season.

    So, to summarize:
    no hockey
    no beer
    no sex.

    And you guys think I’m cranky NOW;)

  23. Lowetide says:

    lol. There was a period in my life when I couldn’t drink more than a couple of beer because I’d had so many in my 20s that I’d start to feel full and sluggish.

    However, I seem to have gotten my second wind and although a few breweries went out of business in the interim I’m back baby!!

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