Pre-Season Scoring: How Much Does it Matter?

Since the lockout, Andrew Cogliano holds the record for pre-season scoring by an Oiler. He went 5gp, 4-3-7 a year ago on the way to winning a roster spot with the big club.

The other day Jason Gregor mentioned that Rob Schremp needed to post good numbers in pre-season games in order to make the big club. I found it a somewhat curious comment because Schremp did indeed post good-to-solid numbers (5gp, 2-2-4) in the fall of 2006. Then I got to wondering about just where the “line in the sand” is for pre-season scoring in order to earn a roster spot.

First, let’s look at the scoring results (by season) for the forward hopefuls each fall:

2007-08

  1. Andrew Cogliano 5gp, 4-3-7
  2. Kyle Brodziak 5gp, 3-2-5
  3. Slava Trukhno 3gp, 1-2-3
  4. Sam Gagner 4gp, 2-0-2
  5. Tim Sestito 2gp, 1-0-1
  6. Rob Schremp 3gp, 0-1-1
  7. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-1-1

Trukhno had nice numbers but didn’t make it, while Gagner scored a couple (and looked good) but didn’t lap the field or anything. Schremp was coming off knee surgery and MacT was in love with Nilsson, Gagner and Cogliano (and rightly so).

2006-07

  1. Patrick Thoresen 6gp, 1-4-5
  2. Alexei Mikhnov 5gp, 2-2-4
  3. Rob Schremp 5gp, 2-2-4
  4. Marc Pouliot 6gp, 2-0-2
  5. Brad Winchester 6gp, 1-0-1
  6. Jonas Almtorp 3gp, 0-1-1
  7. Stephane Goulet 1gp, 1-0-1
  8. Fredrik Pettersson 1gp, 0-1-1
  9. Tim Sestito 1gp, 0-1-1

Stortini (0 points) played enough in 06-07 to be considered as a rookie that season. Thoresen clearly had a quality TC and it paid off but Pouliot and Winchester didn’t outscore Mikhnov (who made the big club) and Schremp (who did not). Jacques also made the team despite being scoreless. Thoresen is a really strong argument for Jason Gregor’s point, Jacques of course represents the opposite.

2005-06

  1. Zack Stortini 3gp, 1-0-1
  2. Marc Pouliot 4gp, 1-0-1
  3. Rob Schremp 6gp, 1-0-1
  4. Kyle Brodziak 4gp, 0-1-1
  5. Jani Rita 7gp, 0-1-1

The rookies on that team? Jani Rita got 21 games before being shipped to PIT plus there were cups of coffee went to Pouliot, Winchester, Yan Stastny, Jean Francois Jacques and Brodziak.

So, if we ask the question “does pre-season scoring have a lot to do with winning a roster spot?” the answer is “maybe.” Certainly in the case of Cogliano and Thoresen putting up points was certainly a tell, but in the case of Stortini and Jacques they didn’t have any offense and made the show. The argument of course is that the things they bring to the game aren’t really offensive and so using that when talking about Schremp sort of misses the point.

And you’d be right. So, where IS the line in the sand here? Of the Oiler prospects who can reasonably be compared to Schremp offensively (on this list I’d pick Cogliano and Gagner) there seems to be a wide range of offensive output. I would argue that circumstances, coaching preference and timing have as much or more to do with it as pre-season scoring

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8 Responses to "Pre-Season Scoring: How Much Does it Matter?"

  1. doritogrande says:

    So we’re not including 13th/14th Forward as a “roster spot”? Because Mikhnov made the squad in 06, and Rita in 05.

    Also, didn’t Pouliot get shipped down in the 06 season? I seem to remember him being the last man cut, with JFJ staying with the big club.

  2. Lowetide says:

    dorito: Sorry, should have been more clear. These are “seasons that are their rookie years”, so a player like Mikhnov could both make the team and not qualify.

  3. Bruce says:

    LT: Of course, there is more to the game than scoring. (But you knew that. :)

    From what I’ve seen of Schremp, I would rather have Gagner on the offensive side of the puck and Cogliano (or Stortini for that matter) on the defensive side. It’s a competitive industry.

    Schremp got a shitty break last year when he got hurt in TC while Gags, Cogs and Brodz — centres all — had break-through camps and all made the team. And Robert Nilsson clearly won a job as a top six scoring winger, which was always Robbie’s Plan B. He’s in tough now; not even age is on his side.

  4. Schitzo says:

    I think you nailed it, Bruce. I mean, besides Myspace and Facebook, can anybody name a single thing he does better than the rest of the kids? Anything he’s even in the top-2?

  5. Lowetide says:

    Just to keep everything straight, Schremp was not injured during TC, but rather had surgery earlier in the summer and was still recovering/not 100%.

  6. Bruce says:

    LT: Right you are, my mistake. I just remember other guys passing him like he was standing still.

  7. Showerhead says:

    I have to imagine that most NHL teams break camp with a small number (let's guess <3) of forward spots open. One would have to surmise that management and especially coaching staff have an idea of their roster makeup, season expectations, and positional needs heading into camp.

    It's all well and good to suggest they're all looking for players who create more than they give up but if those players enter camp without a job then management/scouting hasn't been doing its job. In terms of slightly warted players like JFJ or Rob Schremp, I can see no other answer than if the coach wants a scorer he'll look for numbers and if he wants an energy player he'll look for some crash and bang.

    Ignoring developmental arguments (4Line NHLer vs. 1line AHL) the difference between Kid A and Kid B in terms of end-of-day results has got to be minimal. You're still going to have to shelter him; he'll still look like shit against good NHL players. At that point I have to imagine coaches shoot for "need" and judge accordingly.

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