Replacement Level

It’s amazing how many careers (even some of the really good ones) have fits and starts at the beginning. Things can look fine one week and then fortunes turn and you’re on the end of the bench with only your water bottle and the one coach who defends you and even that guy is looking at you funny.

Robert Nilsson belongs, but he doesn’t. He’s established enough in his NHL career that a HS would be noted by fans and media, but if the Oilers called up Rob Schremp tomorrow and gave him Row-bear’s minutes it wouldn’t be as big a deal as benching Raffi Torres or Jarret Stoll was one year ago.

I’ve talked in the past about Nilsson and Schremp being nice comps for each other (here and here) and it’s reasonable to assume that most or all NHL teams have talents available (either on their 4lines, in the minors or in Europe) who are “in the range” in terms of both talent and production. If the Oilers had given Nilsson’s job to Rob Schremp this fall or last TC, would there have been a huge difference?

On one level we’ll never know (and there is the speed issue) but on another it’s clear that at one point in time these men were similar (offensive) talents. How do we know this? Well, they’ve all played in the AHL very recently and their numbers are similar enough to be comparable. Here, let’s list them:

  • Robert Nilsson (Age 21) 69gp, 18-48-66 .966ppg
  • Rob Schremp (Age 21) 78gp, 23-53-76 .974ppg

That’s pretty close, right? I think it is. Anyway, we have a tendency to believe that Nilsson is a clearly superior player because he won the job but the math suggests Schremp would do as well if given a similar opportunity.

The question (in light of MacT’s recent comments) should be “is that enough?” and the answer is probably “no” and then ultimately we’re looking at two journeyman talents who will always be a slump away from being dealt and a minor league hot streak away from a call to the show. But they aren’t Miro Satan.

I’m increasingly impressed with Bryan Lerg. His Springfield Falcons play this afternoon and buddy is one of the few things going right for the Falcons these days.

Lerg spent some time in the ECHL but has been a very consistent scorer in the AHL and a quality offensive option when playing with skilled men.

I like to use Gabriel Desjardins’ NHL equivalencies when looking at these minor league numbers. It nicks players based on age and it also (when placing it in 82gp segments) makes for a level playing field when comparing prospects over a season and leagues.

So, here’s the Springfield Falcons forwards and their NHL equivalencies so far this season. Interesting stuff (per 82gp)

  1. Rob Schremp (22) 4-35-39
  2. Gilbert Brule (21) 20-10-30
  3. Bryan Lerg (22) 15-15-30
  4. Liam Reddox (22) 16-13-29
  5. Ryan Potulny (24) 15-10-25
  6. Slava Trukhno (21) 4-17-21
  7. Tyler Spurgeon (22) 3-12-15
  8. Derek Bekar (33) 7-1-8
  9. Carl Corazzini (29) 1-7-8
  10. Colin McDonald (24) 3-3-6
  11. Ryan O’Marra (21) 0-5-5
  12. Tim Sestito (24) 3-1-4
  13. Geoff Paukovich (22) 2-2-4
  14. Guillaume Lefevbre (27) 1-1-2
  15. Hans Benson (25) 0-0-0

There are a few who haven’t yet played 10 games so we’ll have to wait. The idea of Desjardins’ is (by way of example) Bryan Lerg should perform at around that level should be be recalled to the NHL today. He’d need to be placed on a skill line with the same number of minutes as he’s getting in the AHL, but we should reasonably expect 30 points in 82gp (.365), which is close to what Robert Nilsson is currently (Robert Nilsson is at .370 today but his minutes are all over the place).

The problem for Nilsson and Schremp today is the same problem that Jani Rita and Tony Salmelainen and Josh Green had 5 years ago: You’re playing as well as you can and then Mike Comrie or Ales Hemsky or Fernando Pisani comes along and grabs your lunch. Robert Nilsson has to worry about Rob Schremp who has to worry about Bryan Lerg. ALL of them have to worry about the guy Edmonton takes in the first round this summer.

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16 Responses to "Replacement Level"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Already have to worry about Eberle.

    Nice post LT.

    I wonder if Schremp gets another shot soon, this team is lurching badly. If Nilsson doesn’t respond like Penner did then we may see it sooner then later.

    btw thanks for the tip on the sandbags, worked out when we were going through Quebec


  2. Scott says:

    They’ve got plenty to worry about already the way I see it.


    And the list, as you said, grows bigger every June.

  3. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Great thread as usual and the colours are much more pleasing to the eye and soul. :)

  4. hunter1909 says:

    Then Katz buys all the dead contracts out lol

  5. Oilmaniac says:

    I like the subtle colour change as well, easier on the eyes to read than the old white on black…

    On a team already (too) full of young developing players, where is the room, outside of injury, to bring in any of the offence-first prospects this year or next?

    there isnt any room, so with this nilsson drama comes a small chance through cut-throat competition..

    Is there a chance the Org/coach could re-tool the philosophy of the fourth line to incorporate an offensive playmaker type (schremp, nilsson), thus establishing a graduation between AHL and 2nd line.. (similar to how poo has progressed, except that road has hardly been from point a to b)

    This team already recieves, warented, criticism for being too soft, but I see this as an opportunity to get the youth involved and motivated… thus providing a position for demotion and promotion within the playing ranks… gags, nils – schremp, brule (at some point)

    While also adding a dynamic component to a fourth line that lacks an offensive catalyst… brodz is good enough to finish, storts i just accept, sMack sinks the ship,.. so who else… (not ladi)

  6. PunjabiOil says:

    I’m a fan of Nilsson. Things aren’t going his way this year, but he was producing last year…his EV/60 rates were exceptionally good.

    He will get out of his slump, as will Gagner.

    Schremp will never succeed at the NHL level simply because of his awkward skating.

  7. Lowetide says:

    I think it’s more about that MacT quote (“it’s not just what you do, it’s what you leave”) and that’s where guys like Stortini and Pouliot are ahead of the Schremp generation. Although he did look good aside from the Ski-Doo wide tracking.

    The question for Schremp is can he hold off Brule? Because his entry level deal is up and they’re going to need to offer 88 a one-way deal. If they don’t, then I suspect he’s gone for a pick in the summertime or at the draft.

  8. Fake Craig McTavish says:


    Do you think he might outlast MacT and that changes?

  9. Lowetide says:

    Fake Craig MacTavish: I think the next coach will have the same problem. The Oilers don’t need a Rob Schremp, they need a Colby Armstrong.

    That’s Schremp’s problem. The Oilers are in exactly the same spot as the Houston Astros in about 1971 (12 first basemen who were all pretty good).

    Astros had John Mayberry, Bob Watson, Cliff Johnson, Mike Easler and a bunch of others and damned if they didn’t send Denis Menke out there to hit one home run.

    MacT isn’t doing that. He isn’t stubbornly giving at-bats to a player who doesn’t have talent. Nilsson has talent, so does Gagner, so does Cogliano and on it goes.

    Schremp’s got bad timing and maybe lacked the work ethic early on. I hesitate to say that because what the hell do I know but it’s also true Andrew Cogliano came from college and made the grade on the first horseshoe.

  10. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: Hey! Cool. I’m glad they came in handy. NOTHING worse than being the Dad and not having the good with the family stuck in a ditch.

    One time (years ago, before kids) I had a flat but no flashlight on the road between EDM and Medicine Hat and could hear my Dad saying “send a boy to do a man’s job!”


  11. Dennis says:

    12′s case is a funny one because there have been flashes where he’s shown the will to get his nose dirty and that last time we were in Det, I remember the guy being in the right position in his own end on about five different plays.

    So, we have seen him put it all together.

    You’d wish we were about to move him when his value was higher but it has always been a possibility that we had to trade one of the kids plus 37 in order to pick up a real defender to go along with 44-71-77. The problem is that anyone you’re picking up might cost a bit of money but we’ll be moving 2mill plus in the move anyway.

    And we know that 13 or 89 aren’t going anywhere.

    In the interm it allows 26 to play with 13-89.

  12. Doogie2K says:

    Eberle with a goal and an assist tonight as Canada wakes up in the second half to beat Finland 7-3 in Game 2 of the pre-tourney.

  13. Doogie2K says:

    Oh, and Hartikainen’s delay of game penalty was the official TSN Turning Point: it set up the 5v3 that led to the 5-3 goal and put it away.

  14. Jonathan says:

    Hartikainen’s delay of game penalty was the official TSN Turning Point: it set up the 5v3 that led to the 5-3 goal and put it away.

    Asked about Finnish prospect Teemu Hartikainen, Prendergast was positive. “Teemu’s an impact player”, he said, “he uses the body well and watching the world juniors there’s little doubt he could fit immediately in our penalty-killing unit.”

  15. Bruce says:

    Asked about Finnish prospect Teemu Hartikainen, Prendergast was positive: “there’s little doubt he could fit immediately in our penalty-killing unit”

    You sure that’s positive?

  16. Doogie2K says:

    Sounds honest. With every other fuck-up we’ve seen this year, I’m surprised we haven’t taken more puck-over-glass penalties than we have.

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