One of the great joys of fandom is following the process of development by your team’s prospects. Some teams, like the Flames, search caves and alleys for knuckle draggers and addled men. We’ll call them the Lennie Small group.
Other teams, like the beloved yet star-crossed (since the Messier trade) Edmonton Oilers, prefer the brainiacs that we’ll call the George Milton group.
By far the largest group of prospects are the kids who aren’t even good enough to play a part in a Salinas tragedy. They’re the tweeners, the Mike Stenhouse group. They’re Candy’s Dog.
The first really good article on Rob Schremp came from HF’s Guy Flaming in the months after he was drafted. That article showed a rather fractious kid, the kind of guy who (as my Dad would have said) was going to invite more hell than a little bit. In the article Schremp is quoted as saying “I use the F-word when I talk to my friends and maybe I do swear too much but again, that’s how I am and I didn’t want to go in there and lie about what kind of personality I have. That’s what they want, they want to try and get a read on what kind of kid you are so if I go in and act like somebody else then they’re not getting the right read on me you know? It was like I’m talking to you now, I went in and answered their questions and with some of the questions you get tense and words just start flying out of your mouth and you realize after and say ‘ah man, I really shouldn’t have said that’.”
The “F” word is a staple in the world of hockey, so that wouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone. However, something pushed him down the draft list in 2004 and it was not the “F” word. What was the flaw, where was the friggin’ in the riggin’? Redline report from their 2004 draft guide:
Huge talent level, probably the best of any North American in this draft. Tremendous hands and magic with the puck. Average skating keeps him from being a truly special offensive player, yet still can be explosive. Unfortunately that usually only happens when he gets lots of ice to work with. Solid leg strength and low centre of gravity make him difficult to separate from the puck. Can make good d-men look stupid 1-on-1. Selfish and petulant with an attitude of entitlement; difficult teammate. Always looks to be focus of attention, but wants to make things happen and many times does. Unafraid of traffic. Lacks defensive intensity and off-ice issues are a concern, but abilities are first rate. If you can get past the baggage, he’s your man. Projection: Top flight playmaker or total bust.
These years later Rob Schremp is not close to the former and has a ways to go if he’s going to be the latter. There is mounting evidence that Schremp’s time as an Oiler prospect may be coming to an end. We can trace this back to comments from coach MacT, Kevin Prendergast and various unnamed sources over the years. Here are a few:
- Scout: “There are players who win battles in the corner and some who lose those battles. Rob Schremp has absolutely no interest in the battle.”
- MacT: “He’s not ready for the NHL yet on a full-time basis. I think that’s clear. I can see him coming back up, but I think the things he needs to stay up here long term are not quick fixes, they’re longer-term fixes. He needs the strength base and the quickness. He’s got to be strong enough to battle at a standstill with players because he’s not going to outskate many players.”
There have also been positive quotes, including some from his minor league coach:
- Bucky: “His vision is unbelievable at this level. He passes the puck like a pro.”
- Daum (today’s paper): “People talk about his poor skating, but he’s not a poor skater, he’s just not as aggressive as he should be when he doesn’t have the puck. He has to reinvent himself.”
In today’s Journal, Matty says “while the Oilers won’t say they’ve written him off, they will likely try to move him this summer.” If they do move him in the summer, I wouldn’t expect too much in return. Every team has prospects going the wrong way.