Guide to Tracking Prospects

This is Fernando Pisani. Every once in awhile a player like Fernando comes along to surprise and delight us with his play. As a fan of drafts and prospects going back 35 years I can say that NHL teams are incredibly good at picking all the good ones early and for the most part if you’re drafted after the TV lights have been taken down the show may not be in the cards.

The new kid in town on the Pisani train is Liam Reddox. Drafted 87 slots after Rob Schremp was taken, Reddox had a nice junior career but didn’t show much as a first year pro. It wasn’t until his second year in pro hockey that the light turned on and Reddox began to climb the depth chart.

At the same time Rob Schremp was becoming very famous, playing for the USC of junior hockey in London, Ontario and when he turned pro he was already a pretty famous hockey player.

At what point then did Liam Reddox become a legit NHL prospect and Rob Schremp become a legit NHL suspect?

Let’s review.

  1. The Edmonton Oilers signed Rob Schremp to his pro deal on May 12, 2006. Reddox got his contract June 1, 2006 and that wasn’t terribly long before he could have re-entered the draft. It’s fairly certain that the Oilers signed the 2004 kids in the exact order of importance (for the record, it was Dubnyk signing 2 weeks after Schremp followed by Michel Goulet and Bryan Young on May 31 and Reddox on the 1st of June) with Reddox bringing up the rear. At the draft June 24, 2006 the Oilers were without a 1st rd pick but did have Dubnyk, Schremp and Cogliano as headliners from the two previous drafts. I don’t think too many were talking about Reddox.
  2. In the fall of 2006 the Oilers sent out Patrick Murphy to the AHL and the junior kids on September 18th. About a week later (September 23) the first real pro cuts took place and of course Liam Reddox was on the list. Also sent to AAA that day were Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak and Tim Sestito (among others). Schremp hung around until September 30th when the Oilers cut their roster to 26 (Schremp & Tom Gilbert were cut that day).

We get a pretty clear idea about pecking order here, right? The Oilers wanted to get a good long look at the phenom and he was sent out right at the end (Edmonton cut Pouliot, Dubnyk & Roy a few days later). The callups that season are very interesting (this is 06-07):

  • October 27: Callup Toby Petersen to replace injured Ethan Moreau
  • November 20: Oilers callup Zack Stortini and send down JF Jacques & Alexei Mikhnov.
  • November 27: Callup Jeff Deslauriers and Danny Syvret.
  • November 29: Callup Marc Pouliot to replace Ales Hemsky.
  • December 3: Callup Alexei Mikhnov (who had been sent out) to replace Ryan Smyth.

So we can see that although Schremp is certainly the rising star among the new pro’s, he’s also not a realistic callup option. When Hemsky & Smyth go down the Oilers choose Pouliot and Mikhnov, and are also trying to find some sandpaper with Stortini and Jacques fighting it our for that role.

This was during a period of time in which Schremp was getting adjusted to the AHL and frankly doing pretty well. On December 1, 2006 Rob Schremp’s AHL numbers (19gp, 4-12-16 +3 with 34 shots) weren’t far off Vic Ferrari’s 1/1 AHL rule (the rule stats that a player who can manage a point-per-game or thereabouts as a 20-year old in the AHL stands a very good chance of being a top 2 line player in the NHL someday). My guess is most of us felt Schremp could be an offensive player in a narrow view in the NHL and we’d see about him being an outscorer. We might have discussed him belonging to the Mike Comrie family of NHL players.

On April 4, 2007 the Edmonton Oilers recalled Rob Schremp to the NHL. He played in 1 game and they sent him back on the 7th. By this time he’d had some ups and downs in the minor leagues and in the period December 1-April 4 his numbers were 48gp, 12-22-34 -1 with 117 shots. After his first NHL game, Schremp played 2 AHL games going 1-2-3 -2 with 9 shots. He missed the playoffs in SWB due to knee surgery. His rookie AHL season:

  • 69gp, 17-36-53 .768ppg (shy of Vic’s 1/1 guideline)

Reddox was not in the AHL picture in 06-07, spending his time in the ECHL and not doing much (70gp, 8-18-26) to get noticed in the crowd. On January 11, 2007 Guy Flaming wrote this about Reddox and his season in Stockton:

No one in the Oilers system needed a rebound year in quite the same degree as Liam Reddox but so far that just hasn’t happened for the former Peterborough standout. After two consecutive 30-goal years with the Petes, the forward only notched 18 in his final year after losing a lot of ice time. Stockton was supposed to be a destination where he could rediscover his scoring touch, but 28 games into the campaign Reddox has only found the back of the net once and has added just five assists for a disappointing six points.

So as we entered the summer of 2007 Schremp is still on the rise as a prospect and Reddox is not even in the picture.

What happened? Well he apparently decided to man up in the training department and kept his ears open and his mouth shut. Prendergast: “Nose to the grindstone. He bought into what he was told. Kelly (Buchberger) spent a lot of time with him down in Stockton. He’s a bit of a funny kid in that, if you start to show confidence in him, he’ll respond to you and at the beginning of last year he had trouble getting into the line-up. He went home this summer and worked really had and came back with an unbelievable amount of confidence in his game. “
Schremp’s offseason was not as productive due to a late training start coming off knee surgery.

So we enter fall 2007 with Schremp having some issues and Reddox ready to roll. At TC Reddox drew rave reviews and Schremp expressed frustration with being unable to play as well as he could because of the injury. Both were sent out this time on the same day (September 26) as the Oilers reduced their roster to 35 players. Among the players who were voted off the island afterwards this time were Patrick Thoresen and Zack Stortini.

The 07-08 early-season callups:

  • October 12: Oilers recall Rob Schremp & Zack Stortini, while sending down Robert Nilsson & JF Jacques.
  • October 19: recall JF Jacques and send down Rob Schremp.
  • October 31: recall Robert Nilsson and send down JF Jacques.
  • November 1: Oilers demote Marc Pouliot.
  • November 15: Oilers recall Liam Reddox.

What in hell happened here? Well it looks like a bunch of kids shuffled back and forth and it took awhile for the winners (Nilsson and Stortini) to find their way. Also interesting is that by mid-November Reddox had impressed enough to get a call. Here were their numbers in the AHL November 15, 2007:

  • Schremp 13gp, 3-8-11 +1
  • Reddox 15gp, 4-6-10 +3

The numbers are pretty much the same but the tone of the coaching staff and management is completely different.

Kelly Buchberger on Reddox: “Night in and night out, he’s been our Ryan Smyth. He goes to the net all the time. He’s used in every situation. Last year in Stockton (ECHL) he didn’t play a lot. He’s a surprise. Now it looks like he has a chance to make it. He’s our Ryan Smyth the way he works in practices and the games. I’ve been at the rink early and who walks in the door before eight, for a 10 o’clock practice? Liam– so he can start working out. He competes, plus he’s got skill, lots of skill. You know how Smytty drives to the net, burying that shoulder? Well, Liam does a lot of those little things, too. He’s made big strides in one year. I use him on the point on the power play and when we’re down five-on-three, he’s the forward I send out.”

Craig MacTavish on Schremp: “The things he needs to do to stay here long-term are not quick fixes. He needs the strength base and quickness. He’s got to be strong enough to battle at a standstill because he’s not going to outskate many guys.”

I think that’s where it happened, guys. Schremp came off that injury and wasn’t 100% in TC and Reddox worked like a bugger, formed a bond with Buchberger and then gained some confidence when he had success.

This is basically how I track prospects. The things we talk about on this blog (NHL equivalencies, etc) and items like Jonathan’s terrific post the other day about who’s zooming who in the AHL are factors, and as you can see even though there’s a ton of hypberbole the organization does reveal information about prospects and their progress.

All of these things, along with transactions and how MacT is using the kids when they’re called up are indicators. Time on Ice totals are important, and so is who gets called up and how soon after the start of the season it happens. It’s also vital a player impact the game when given a chance. Potulny’s game last night is a textbook example. These things may seem obvious, but if they are why are people so surprised about Rob Schremp not getting recalled?

Many are surprised by coach MacT’s reaction to the Schremp question the other day. I’m surprised the question was asked at all.

written by

The author didn‘t add any Information to his profile yet.
Related Posts

33 Responses to "Guide to Tracking Prospects"

  1. Jonathan says:

    It’s also vital a player impact the game when given a chance.

    It’s true, but it’s also probably the biggest thing that submarines prospects who shouldn’t be submarined.

  2. Lowetide says:

    I have a buddy who played pro but never made the show and he still believes they sent him out too soon. Of course he broke his back in year 2 of pro hockey so it isn’t like he had a bunch of chances.

  3. Black Dog says:

    Terrific post LT.

    Reddox is gaining traction slowly but surely, the kid does all of the little things that help win games and there’s no doubting his effort.

    I guess the question about him is will the offence come? Ten to fifteen a year? Or is he Thoresen redux?

  4. bookie says:

    if you start to show confidence in him, he’ll respond to you and at the beginning of last year he had trouble getting into the line-up.

    This quote talks about Reddox, but in the minds of many people, it may also refer to Schremp Perhaps the way that Schremp responds to a lack of confidence in him is to lose his focus and enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect those guys who refuse to quit when no-one believes in them. I also recognize that some players need a different tactic. In any case, I am not saying the Schemp has been mishandled or anything of the such. I don’t know. Rather I am suggesting that perhaps this team has a bias for getting the ‘driven players who have problems with skill’ as opposed to the ‘skilled players with drive problems’.

    I think to know, you would need to have to really investigate how other teams deal with these types of guys.

  5. bookie says:

    btw – great post LT

  6. Unleaded says:

    Wow. That was a great read.

    Really like the way you spell this out and show where the arrows are pointing for most of the Oilers prospects.

    I firmly beleive that if Schremp had been handled differently, he might have developed more than he has. I will say that when you treat a young boy like a man it sets a certain level of expectation. Some people are ready for it (Redox, Stortini, Smid) before others (Schremp, Nilsson, could also look at Penner and Pouliot). It has taken Sugartits a long time for him t be ready to hear and deal with the knocks on him. Because really, I don’t think that there has been as much support for the Kid as he has needed.

    Maybe he bought into the hype, and beleived he was destined for greatness. Hell, maybe he would have been if the org had given him some more face time. I dunno. I just see him being depressed every time he’s sent back down, and… it’s gotta hurt. You know how much he wantsto be up here, any one of us can see he has the skills to do it, if he could put them together, and he’s struggling. Has been for how many years now?

    Don’t know what can happen with him, but I reallyhope either he finds a way or he finds someone who can show him the way. Having your dreams crapped on is never fun, especially when the guy who’s doing the crapping (whether he meant it that way doesn’t mater much) is the guy with the power to make or break those dreams.

  7. bookie says:

    I have a buddy who played pro but never made the show and he still believes they sent him out too soon.

    I suppose they all feel that way, but you know that some of them are right. Look at some of the guys that have gone undrafted. I am sure that there are at least a dozen guys out there stocking shelves or mopping floors that could have been 10 year guys in the NHL if they scored a fluke goal on the day of their callup or if they just had the right coach, etc.

    I am not saying that there are any Crosby’s out there, but I bet that there are a few Strudwicks

  8. bookie says:

    Unleaded – That was well written as well!

  9. Lowetide says:

    Good comments here, guys. Two things I didn’t mention because the damn thing was too long anyway are:

    1. Schremp’s 20-year old season was as a Penguin. We don’t know that it hurt but it probably didn’t help.

    2. Jonathan Filewich, who was the leading scorer on that team in 06-07, seems to have washed out (he’s been traded this season and his #’s are way off). I’ve followed him because of connections to some of his relatives and he looked like a guy who might make it not so long ago.

  10. oilerdago says:

    Great read LT. It may very well be that the Oiler’s development coaches in the minors put more emphasis/do a better job of developing certain types of players. I don’t know.

    I do suspect they wanted Schremp to develop his entire game and either he: does not have it, does not want to do it or does not appreciate the coaches trying to change his game.

    Only Robbie can answer that for himself so while I’d like to see him succeed, I just don’t see it. And unless he’s got a change of attitude (which could come in a different organization) he could be headed for a career in AAA.

  11. stubby says:

    Maybe the knee injury had a big effect on Schremp as well. Not only the timing but the severity. It seems like he was almost at that 1/1 as a 20 year old but hasn’t been the same since.
    Reminds me of Rick Girard, a 2nd round draft of the Canucks in ’93. Had a great World Junior, scored 140 points in the WHL, was at close to a point per game in Syracuse but tore his knee up and ended up playing 12 years (and counting) in Germany. He didn’t produce the same in the AHL once he returned. Who knows how much that knee injury derailed him? Maybe the same for Schremp.

  12. Oilman says:

    The Edmonton area is full of these guys that were a break or two from the bigs that now play Beer League against me (A goalie that never played an organized game between the ages of 18 and 32). Fact of the matter is NHL players make their own breaks through a combination of talent and work ethic in varying degrees. If you’re lacking in the former you’d better have a shit load oh the latter.

  13. Matt says:

    I am not saying that there are any Crosby’s out there, but I bet that there are a few Strudwicks

    That’s probably about right. Fortunately, I think this is probably a lot less of a ‘problem’ in hockey than in baseball, and for sure football.

    In 10 mins/Gm for 5 games, you get an awful lot of chances to make plays (you also have a lot of chance to get exposed if you’re not the real deal). It’s a *lot* better than getting 20 AB while the regular 1B gets a few days to recover from back spasms. And it’s really a lot better than a couple weeks of football practice and half a preseason game.

  14. Alice says:

    That’s interesting Matt, but I’m not sure I agree. BB and Football are set pieces, you stand at the plate, you have a specific assignment for a play (I suppose this is less the case if you’re on the defensive side of the ball, but..)
    I think it’s easier to get a read on a guy in a one-play-at-a-time game.

  15. Bill Needle says:

    I think you missed the critical point in Oilers history that when Daryl Katz bought the Oilers, Rob Schremp didn’t get a chance to submit an offer.

  16. doritogrande says:

    Fantastic post LT, but I have to nitpick a bit. When you say:

    "The Edmonton Oilers signed Rob Schremp to his pro deal on May 12, 2006."

    I looked at that and thought, wait a minute…I thought he signed right after he was returned to Junior one year. Which is true. He signed his entry level contract October 7th 05, four days after being returned to London after being cut as a 19-year old (Source:

    My personal opinion is that nobody ruined Schremp's career more than Kevin Lowe when he sent the kid out in favour of Jani Rita's one-way contract that same fall. Robbie went back to junior and shot every light out of the London arena night in and night out against superiorly weaker opposition, all because Lowe (or pressure from the EIG, who really knows) kept Rita up instead. That was the year Schremp legitimately had a chance to make the team, and probably earned it to be quite honest.

    Where was I going with that? Jordan Eberle, look out next training camp. Rob Schremp is out to (possibly undeservedly) usurp your roster spot.

  17. Coach pb9617 says:

    That’s probably about right. Fortunately, I think this is probably a lot less of a ‘problem’ in hockey than in baseball, and for sure football.

    Case in point – James Harrison. Named DPOY and the big story is that he’s the first undrafted player to be named such. He was cut four times by the Steelers. A player gets injured and he’s an emergency add to the roster. A player gets ejected and he’s an emergency starter. Four years later, he’s DPOY.

    He needed an injury and an ejection to an all star starter. That’s running hot.

    LT, that team had a few interesting players on it – Filewich, Kennedy, Schremp, Carcillo, Welch and Brodziak.

  18. HBomb says:

    You know whatr hasn’t been discussed here? That stupid “no 19 year olds in the AHL” rule.

    Where would Schremp be if, rather than having him “float” through a season in London in 2005-06, he was instead thrown into the AHL, even in a split affiliation, to play against men?

    I love the USC/London Knight comparison Lowetide, it’s so damn scary how true it is.

  19. Jonathan says:

    I forgot to mention that was an outstanding read, LT. I often wonder if you get fewer comments on stuff like this, just because it’s so thorough.

    In any case, since DG mentioned Eberle’s name, I took a look at his progress with the Pats, where he’s tracking well above alst season’s totals. A number of 19-year old players on the team have posted incredible numbers given where they were last year, and looking at coaching, the last Pats head coach (Curtis Hunt) was hired as an assistant in Ottawa over the summer.

    The new coach is Dale Derkatch, a former Oilers pick who never made it to the big league despite never recording less than 142 points in a season over three years as a junior wit hthe Pats. Best guess as to the reason? He’s 5’5″, 145lbs. Big time player in Italy, Finland and Germany, though.

    A good quote, too:

    “I want to be the highest-scoring team, I want to be the lowest goals-against, and we want to be third or fourth in the league in penalty minutes,” Derkatch, 43, said during a media conference at the Brandt Centre.

    “Now, people are thinking I’m crazy, saying, ‘Why do you want to be third or fourth in the league (in penalty minutes)?’ Because I want guys to play hard and I don’t want them to be scared when they play hard that if they take a penalty, I’m going to be upset with them. I’m not upset with them. They’re going to take penalties for playing hard.”

    “I think I have received influences,” Derkatch said. “I have been such a fortunate person that through my whole career, I’ve had so many different coaches. Bill LaForge. Terry O’Malley. Barry MacKenzie. Dave King. Bob Murdoch. There were coaches over in Europe. I’ve taken pieces from them — the pieces I like — and I know what I liked as a player and what I wanted each day when I came to the rink.

    “I was excited to come to the rink. That’s what I want from the players. I want them to be excited.

    Eberle was coached by him in Bantam as well, and said this:

    “With the intensity that he brings to the game, for sure you feed off it,” Eberle said.

    “I’m looking forward to having him for another season.”

    Sorry for the lengthy side-point, but there seems to be a lot of things to like about the guy coaching Jordan Eberle.

  20. Swabbubba says:

    Ok I said this before I like Reddox’s game. He goes all over the place have not seen him get to out of shape.
    Schremp still has the you tube videos to keep himself warm. Being preordained to something is always hard… people have been blowing smoke up Rob’s ass for years. Now when it is time for all his work to pay off he is being told err u ain’t the Hockey Jesus we thought you were.
    I am firm believer that ya got to stay hungry. I assign Sugertits to watch all the Rocky movies and go work on a construction in the dead of summer for a week. If that does not get him to play harder then at least he can swing a hammer.

    PS this is getting old can we get back to firing a coach or burning furniture

  21. markmac says:

    I, for one, am delighted, and unsurprised that Reddox made it. I had the odd pleasure of attending the World Under-18 Hockey Championships in April 2004 in Minsk, Belarus.

    Canada finished a slightly embarrassing fourth, but this kid named Reddox made it a lot less painful to watch by sinking six goals and an assist in seven games and working his ass off. I may have been the only person not related to Liam who actually pumped his fist with excitement when the Oilers drafted him six weeks later.

    I’ve never seen Stu MacGregor in the flesh, but I have to wonder whether he wasn’t also in Minsk in the spring of 2004. (I think he actually was the guy they sent to international tournaments back then…).

    No idea why Schremp wasn’t on the US team that year… perhaps they were saving him for the shootout.

  22. hunter1909 says:

    “Great read LT. It may very well be that the Oiler’s development coaches in the minors put more emphasis/do a better job of developing certain types of players. I don’t know.”

    What’s not to know? Oilers are simply total shit at developing anything but grinders.

  23. Jonathan says:

    Oilers are simply total s*** at developing anything but grinders.


  24. godot10 says:

    //What’s not to know? Oilers are simply total shit at developing anything but grinders.//

    The Oiler “grinders”
    Ales Hemsky
    Shawn Horcoff
    Fernando Pisani
    Sam Gagner
    Kyle Brodziak
    Marc Pouliot
    Andrew Cogliano
    Liam Reddox

  25. Black Dog says:

    Tom Gilbert
    Jarret Stoll
    Raffi Torres
    Marc Andre Bergeron

  26. Rod says:

    Great post LT. Really interesting to see their paths put together like that, along with some of the other prospects.

  27. quain says:

    Given that a huge majority of our issues are created by a poor penalty kill and a mediocre bottom six I’d say that this team would be a lot better if we could develop a few damn grinders.

    The other big issue, a weakly performing soft minute line, has started to turn itself around. Hopefully we can speak highly of it in a dozen games.

  28. Bruce says:

    LT: Outstanding post, your attention to detail — contract dates, transactions, quotes — is the mark of a true craftsman. Great thread following too. (Until now.)

    perhaps this team has a bias for getting the ‘driven players who have problems with skill’ as opposed to the ‘skilled players with drive problems’.

    Uh, isn’t this the club that traded Ryan Smyth for Robert Nilsson?

    Still, point taken, Bookie, and I suspect there’s a bias in that direction throughout the game, not just our own little OBC. What coach isn’t going to notice, and like, the guy who’s in the gym two hours early? Isn’t he going to pay a little more attention to him, to see what kind of game he’s got, spend a little time and see how he responds to one-on-one coaching.

    And when your coaching staff consists of two 9th round draft choices, an undrafted free agent, and a CIS lifer, well, it’s difficult to imagine them responding otherwise. They’re going to have all day for guys like Reddox and the Italian connection (Pisani, Stortini, Sestito), who when it comes to growing their game, bring a Lowetide-esque attention to detail.

    W.r.t. Schremp, I mentioned when he was sent down that it would be a very difficult plane trip back to Springfield, and it would seem he has responded very poorly. My feeling is that Schremp’s game is utterly reliant on confidence, even swagger, and when he loses that for any reason there’s not much behind it. Who knows, he may have lost it during that one “men against boys” game in the Shark Tank which had to be an eye-opening experience for young Robbie.

    I’m no Schremp fan but given the results he posted, I felt (and feel) they sent him down a little too quickly. But after two pretty good games he was dreadful in his last two. And I’m guessing MacT never once showed up for work in the morning and found Sugartits already in the gym working on his “cycle” game.

  29. namflashback says:


    I’m all for people having their own opinions around these parts, and its a free world and all, but its like you don’t even bother to read the details of what the author has written on his blog.

    No matter your opinion on Reddox and the player type he represents, what the blog says is that he overcame a significant disadvantage to get where he is. Relative to the average first rounder who get multiple attempts to “make it.”

    And like a large majority of players who play a bottom 6 role (excepting the enforcers) they were offensive contributors when they played junior. Just won’t translate to offense in the bigs.

    Its about understanding that they need to adapt other skills to earn a job. That’s what Reddox did, and what Schremp has not.

    And keeping the other team off the scoresheet helps you win too. And keeping really good players off the sheet is hard to do.

    Or read the original article.

  30. Master Lok says:

    Great read LT. One of my joys every workday.

    Question (to all): What is Reddox’s offensive potential? Is he Thoreson? Or Marty Reasoner? Or Pisani? Or Smyth?

  31. Black Dog says:

    master lok – that’s the question, isn’t it?

    he’s either Thoresen (less then 5 goals) or hopefully Reasoner/Pisani – 10-15

    if the latter then he will have a career, if not, then maybe not so much

    hard to say thus far, he scored in junior but then again so did Tie Domi

  32. Bank Shot says:

    My bet would be that Reddox is in Thoresen territory.

    Look at his most common linemates by icetime:


    He’s gotten better treatment then any rookie I can think of since the lockout, and he hasn’t produced much of anything given the strength of his linemates.

    He also hasn’t come close to a PPG in the AHL either where guys like Pouliot and Thoresen can dominate.

  33. Jonathan says:

    He’s gotten better treatment then any rookie I can think of since the lockout

    Sam Gagner?

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

© Copyright -