That’ll be The Day

Prospects never (or rarely) get better in a straight line. They sputter and chug and step into elevator shafts and shoot the moon and die on the vine.

For an NHL organization, being patient with these kids is both key and well-nigh impossible. Fans? Don’t even talk about it. Some fans are all over Ales Hemsky’s career path as being poor, don’t even think about bringing up a Nilsson or a Smid.

Or Rob Schremp.

I’m hesitant to even write about him since the guy is already so bloody infamous. This will be the 25th post about him on this blog, meaning he’s been front and center here more often than Marc Pouliot (who some people believe I’m related to), JF Jacques (whose career is a car crash but it’s our car crash) and Slava Trukhno (another favorite of mine but he’s been so awful I’m trying to distance myself from him). :-)

Back when I followed baseball with the faith of a child, the Expos had so many prospects it was impossible to really keep track of them (I once had a drunken encounter in Mexico with a winter league coach about an Expos prospect. Too many Cuba libre’s and not enough “geez that guy seems to be getting irritated with me.” Why my wife is still with me remains a mystery).

So I devised a simple way to track them, in fact we all do it in our brains with all kinds of things. Our kids, when to push the envelope with the better half and many other real-life items. Basically, it’s the blank page of foolscap with one line right down the middle. On the left are positives, to the right negatives. If a player has more plus than minus, we can say his arrows are pointed in the right direction.

It can apply to teams as well. The Toronto Blue Jays had their arrows pointed in the right direction forever before they won the WS. As if to prove it, they did it again the following year. The great Detroit Tiger team of 1984 had it’s beginnings in 1974 when they selected Lance Parrish in the first round. The following season they plucked Lou Whitaker and then in 1976 added Alan Trammell, Jack Morris and Ozzie Smith (although Smith didn’t sign with Detroit). By the time they picked Kirk Gibson in the first round of the 1978 draft, the Tigers set themselves up for a long run just by doing the right things at the draft table.

Schremp has so many arrows going in the wrong direction he must feel like John Wayne in the Searchers. As horrible as his AHL numbers were (in his third year at that level), the thing about Schremp is that there’s no lack of really good copy about him:

  • 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’s also the experience of Liane Davis early in his career. She spent a few summers working on his skating but it didn’t take and as of last spring he looked more wide track than ever. In fact a quick check of Davis’ website gives us a nice list of NHL players who have taken time to improve their skating. As far as I know, Schremp’s issues still have skating as a negative arrow. Would it not have been a good idea to keep going back?

So, what are his positives then? If all the arrows are pointed one way, he’d be an NP. Right? So, what about Rob Schremp makes him valuable enough even now for Jim Matheson to suggest he might be worth a “good draft pick” and that Toronto was reportedly interested?

The first positive involves ridiculous puck skills. If there were a Harlem Globetrotters of hockey Schremp would be the captain. Some of these skills even apply to hockey. The second positive involves the fact that he’s a first round pick and even when they fail with one team there’s almost always a General Manager at the ready with an offer in the hopes he can grab lightning in a bottle. The final one I can think of is that he’s supremely confident. That’s a strong element for a young man like Schremp, a desire to succeed. I haven’t been able to marry that thought with the apparent lack of effort in returning to Liane Davis for another summer of doing the dishes and improving a weakness on the ice.

Recently I’ve been reading on the Al Gore that Rob Schremp may have a brand new day with the arrival of Pat Quinn. I’m having a hard time with that one. Presumably Steve Tambellini will offload a smallish skill forward from the big league roster (Gagner, O’Sullivan, Cogliano, Nilsson, etc) with the idea that a bigger man will take his place. If they plan on making room for Schremp, I’d think the Oilers would be moving more than just Nilsson from the list above.

I’m not convinced Tambellini can get a 2nd rounder for Schremp and if you want to argue he’s worth more than Robert Nilsson you better pack a lunch because it’ll take all day.

But it’s enough, and its time. The Oilers need to let Rob Schremp go for his sake and at this point the return is less important than turning the page. The only way I see him getting a real chance in Edmonton this fall is if Tambellini overhauls the F position and Schremp impresses at TC with a new group of PF’s and Coke Machines replacing O’Sullivan, Cogliano and Nilsson.

And THAT my friends is a stretch.

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30 Responses to "That’ll be The Day"

  1. Ducey says:

    I completely agree. Tambi’s comments about getting bigger and stronger and harder to compete against means Schremp is done here. There are too many guys with his limited size and the same skillset ahead of him. Quinn is not going to put up with his poor defence, lack of forechecking and inability to hangout in front of the net any more than MacT did.

    I think however, he might be able to fit on a line with two guys who do all the work. Sounds silly but the reality is that the Messier and Anderson’s of the world still need a linemate. A team with lots of size and tenacity but little in the way of finesse might also be able to use him.

    I am thinking Wellwood in Vancouver, for example. Maybe Minni would have an interest as they are apparently changing gears? Maybe Charlie Wang has access to Youtube?

    I think in two years from now the Blogs will be speculating about whether the Oilers should bring Robbie back from Europe.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: You make some strong points. A player like Schremp still hasn’t had his “season of 500 at-bats” and until he does there will always be some questions.

    The other option is to sign him to a one-way deal and send him to the AHL where he re-establishes himself as an offensive player.

    If the Oilers deal Cogliano for a Drew Stafford and Robert Nilsson for picks and then bring in a big center for the 3line then I can see Schremp having a window of opportunity here.

    But they’d have to move 3 of O’Sullivan, Hemsky, Cogliano, Gagner or Nilsson imo for him to have a really good chance and I don’t see Tambellini doing that kind of surgery.

    You have to reach almost fantasy levels to shoe-horn him onto the 09-10 roster (unless they sign him and someone gets injured from the family of players we’re talking about here).

  3. B.C.B. says:

    I think if they move Schremp it will be for another ‘failed’ first round pick. One that has size, some skill, and their own development problems.

    Position I would be targeting Centre, or LW. It will be a big player, who is more defensive then offensive.

    I don’t know any other teams prospects very well, but I could see Schremp in a swap with New Jersey, Atlanta, Phillie, New York Islanders, Florida, or Colorado.

  4. Jonathan Willis says:

    You stole the post I planned to make this morning, LT ;)

    The fundamental things that kept Schremp off the roster during the MacTavish era (his various weaknesses, a variety of better options with a similar skillset) haven’t change with the change in coaches. The commitment to getting bigger actually makes things harder for him.

  5. Chris says:

    I don’t think you could get a second round pick for Schremp. I supose its possible that there is a GM out there that thinks he’s worth a third rounder. Either that or as BCB indicates you are looking at swapping unsuccessful projects with another organization in the hopes that each organization can reclaim something where the other failed.

  6. HBomb says:

    Another day, another terrible article from that fat hack Terry JonesCalls Penner and Nisson coach killers, calls out Gagner, Cogliano and even Ales Hemsky to be more gritty – but does NOT mention how certain veterans (i.e. Moreau) need to be better.

    How this guy is still employed is beyond me. Give me the job as manager of the Edmonton Sun for the day, and this guy would be out of a job.

  7. HBomb says:

    I think if they move Schremp it will be for another ‘failed’ first round pick. One that has size, some skill, and their own development problems.

    Hello Schremp-plus-something for Jeff Tambellini.

    I know he’s the GM’s son, but he’s an interesting player at a position of need, playing for a team known to give up on young guys too early AND famous for doing deals with the Oilers (at least when Lowe was GM).

  8. PunjabiOil says:

    Terry Jones continuing his shots at Daryl Katz

    “There was some question of how much the job was going to be truly his with Lowe looking over his shoulder and new owner Daryl “MacT is not going anywhere” Katz hiding back behind the curtains somewhere.”

  9. HBomb says:

    Terry Jones is the “worst of the worst” when it comes to the Edmonton media. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said.

  10. Daron says:

    Hey everyone, kind of off-topic, but wondering where I can go on the Al Gore to get reliable “grades” of each team’s prospects. We go see the Aeros, Minnesota’s AHL team, here 3-4 times a year, and it would be cool to know a little more about who we’re watching and what their chances are at the big league level. It was obvious with Clutterbuck because he was a non-stop whirling dervish, but not with other guys. Thanks.

  11. Coach pb9617 says:

    If the Oilers deal Cogliano for a Drew Stafford

    …and Robert Nilsson + for Colby Armstrong, coach will a smile on his face for a year.

  12. Ribs says:

    Hey Daron,

    Hockey’s Future is the best place to start if you haven’t checked it out yet. You can click on the players names on the right to see profiles for each prospect.

  13. geowal says:

    It’s nice to see Eberle’s name on Davis’ website.

  14. Vic Ferrari says:

    I can see why the Oilers would want to acquire Colby Armstrong, same for 28 other teams. But for the life of me I can’t see why Waddell would trade away one of the few bright spots on his roster. Same goes for Trent Hunter, Alex Frolov, Nathan Horton, Scott Hartnell and so on.

    The Oilers don’t have the puck enough. It’s not a disaster, but it’s not good either. Some of that will correct itself as the young players get better. I just wish that Tambellini had had this epiphany before he let Torres and Glencross go. For that matter Thoresen may have had no finish, but at least he won puck puck battles and got the puck going the right way. The string of prospects that have used his icetime since have gotten crushed in this regard.

    And we all know that one of the kids will have a game where they’re line is outchanced 4 to 2 at evens, but end up +2 with two points and get a game star. And that will get in their head, and they’ll remember the way it was in their glory days (the 14-5-1 final stretch in ’08) like a child reminiscing about Christmas past, and the next game every low percentage pass or blueline risk will seem like a gamble worth taking … and they’ll be ouchanced 6-1 and the Oilers will probably lose. It’s the way it is.

    Some of these guys need a Marty Reasoner style career turnaround. If you’re old enough, it probably doesn’t seem that long ago that Reasoner’s STL goals, few as they were, had a spectacular quality. And Quenneville publicly questioned his commitment to playing away from the puck.

    Stauffer asked a terrific and difficult question to Marty about his change of style. Reasoner’s answer was that it was “a matter of survival”.

    Thing is, if there had been half a dozen other Oilers with the same issues as Marty at the time (looking stylish while getting outchanced) … would Marty have felt that his career was in jeopardy? Would he have made the transformation from messageboard fanboy thriller to actual useful hockey player? I dunno, but I doubt it.

    I look at guys like Pouliot and Nilsson and think that there are useful hockey players underneath. But if they keep trying to “be like Guy” they’re NHL careers won’t last much longer. Maybe once they realize that their NHL careers are in real jeopardy they’ll change, but I don’t know.

    MacTavish really sloped the ice the right way at evens for those guys and Penner too, and of course for Gagner and Cogliano (understandably, they’re kids) … if Quinn is running the forwards from the bench that won’t happen. And it’s not going to end well for those guys.

  15. hunter1909 says:

    Great day to see a real coach taking over the team. Quinn will do everything positive that the last one never imagined, let alone implemented.

    For one thing, Schremp is going to get a real shot at TC. If Quinn can’t use him, then fine. I trust his judgement, for whatever reason. Call it an Irish thing, but Quinn knows how to motivate players to do just about whatever he asks them to do. No snide remarks, no “I won the cup so fuck off” persona either. So if Schremp can’t make the grade, that’s his problem.

    The Oilers fanbase have been party to seeing how many first round picks left to wither and die on the vine? Mikhnov for one: simply ignored, mismanaged, and, once the silly Oiler fans started parroting the desires of the front office, well, why even bother drafting in the first round? Let’s only pick 2nd round and worse players, so when they fail we don’t have to think of excuses.

    Since so many OIler fans hate Schremp, just why all the yapping about Eberle? He’s small, didn’t develop worth shit last season, and is at least 2-3 seasons away from making any kind of real impact in the NHL. That is, even if he makes the NHL.

  16. PDO says:

    Great post Vic – only criticism from me is that it was Lowe who dealt Torres for nothing and let Glencross walk.

    Scrhemp will be gone at the draft. Either as a toss in, for another retread, or hopefully for a pick that we can use to help move up in the draft.

  17. B.C.B. says:

    PDO: I really don’t want to see Schremp moved for a pick that is re-traded to move up a couple spots: unless it is to move up into the top ten, but I don’t think that schremp will get that much return. here are two examples of this:
    the one I like:
    Schremp for a second, then that 2nd, our 2nd and 10th overall to move up to 6 or 7th overall
    the one I do not like
    Robbie for a second (more likely a third), then our second and the third from Robbie to move up in the second round.

    I rather see a reclaimation project coming back for Schremp.

  18. hunter1909 says:

    Considering the Oilers have almost zero forward talent(Hemsky and Gagner aside) that has anything approximating serious skill, why not just keep Schremp around until he unequivocally shows that he will never make it in the NHL?

    It’s not as if the team has anything much to lose. The return on Schremp’s going to be terrible. Besides, Schremp’s going to be cheap to sign, and that’s a bonus.

    Not that I’m coaching the Oilers, but I’d probably stick Schremp on the 4th line, and put him out for the powerplay.

  19. speeds says:

    I don’t agree with LT that the Oilers should turn the page on Schremp, even if they don’t get much in return. I’d much rather try and get him into top shape over the summer while working on his skating, and see what happens at camp.

    It’s not worth dumping him if all you’re gonna get is a 4th round pick back.

  20. Lowetide says:

    speeds: A 4th rounder seems about right, and I’d pull the trigger.

  21. Coach pb9617 says:

    speeds: A 4th rounder seems about right, and I’d pull the trigger.I’d be delighted by that return.

  22. Jonathan Willis says:

    Considering the Oilers have almost zero forward talent(Hemsky and Gagner aside) that has anything approximating serious skill, why not just keep Schremp around until he unequivocally shows that he will never make it in the NHL?

    Why not just keep Potulny around? He was way more skilled than Schremp this season.

    Heck, why not just keep Brule around, too. He was a 6th overall pick, for crying out loud.

    Where’s the harm? It isn’t like the return on either of them will be that great anyway.

    I’ll tell you: there are, at most, 14 spots for forwards on an NHL roster. There isn’t room to give every Tom, Dick and Harry that you spent a top-100 pick on a roster spot. Players prove they deserve an NHL chance; they don’t just get tossed NHL chances untill they unequivoaclly show they don’t know what to do with them.

  23. speeds says:

    I guess I just don’t see the hurry to get rid of Schremp.

    I don’t think it’s a big risk that he’s taken on waivers if he doesn’t make the club, though I suppose if he is taken on waivers that’s a risk vs. trading him before it gets to that point.

    Is a 4th round pick likely to be a more sure bet to make the NHL than Schremp? I don’t think so, but I suppose it’s possible.

    Keeping Schremp (well, I suppose who knows, given last year, but in theory) helps Springfield, relative to some of the other guys playing there last year.

  24. Chris says:

    I agree that Shremp isn’t worth more than a third or fourth round pick at this point. He had his brief window of opporunity and didn’t really manage to blow the doors off to such an extent that he stuck. His skills are replicated too much on the roster as LT has mentioned at length we have too many Hobbits on the team as it is, and most of them skate better than Captain America. I think of the Springfield guys Poultny probably has the best chance of sticking. He’s got better size and had some scoring touch.

  25. Lowetide says:

    speeds: Should Schremp not get moved then I’m all about giving him a chance in TC. However, I think he’s going the wrong way and at some level it’s better to send him away if he’s not in the plans.

    They don’t own these players, just their rights. If there’s not a legit chance for him this TC, better to send him away imo.

  26. Chris says:

    Well first round picks generally do get a few chances to fail, Kolanos is still kicking around, and look how many chances Brad Isbister got to wash out of the NHL.

  27. speeds says:

    I get what you’re saying about giving him a chance to catch on with someone else if you’ve totally written him off here, but this is the first year Schremp has to pass through waivers to down to the minors.

    If Schremp comes to camp and gets sent down, how much can he reasonably complain about getting a fair shot if all 29 other teams don’t claim him on waivers?

  28. Mr DeBakey says:

    Thing is
    Schremps a FA come July 1

    Why trade for him when you can offer him a one-way contract and the Oilers won’t match?

  29. speeds says:

    That is a fair point, and I think it is something may start to happen, but we haven’t seen too much of it yet.

    We’ve seen it start to creep in with the 2nd round compensation players (Kesler a couple years ago, Backes and Bernier last summer), but thusfar no one has used the offer sheet strategy to pick up tweener prospects.

  30. hunter1909 says:

    Jonathan: Why be in such a hurry to drive off first round picks before they get a chance to fall totally on their faces? Schremp got how many games last year, on a shitty team run by a disfunctional coach?

    I can’t help but like strange athletes. I’d have liked Alex Delvecchio, a guy who apparently refused to even sharpen his skates. Or some guy the Habs used to have in the 60′s who refused to open the gate and always climbed over the boards to return to the bench.

    Oilers have just left a very dark age in their history. An era where basically second rate people sold themselves to a rabid fan base as first class, then, when put under the microscope of the post 2005 strike proved themselves to be good enough to ice 8th place teams, but at the same time being clearly not good enough to win the cup. Unlike younger fans I was brought up to expect the cup each year. Losing in the finals to me is probably worse than finishing 30th. Particularly when it’s dredged up as an excuse for keeping an incompetant/tired management team around.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to mollycoddle anyone, but the vibe I keep getting from the Schremp/Mikhnov/and back to Rita situations is “unless you know how to check like a third line player, forget playing on the Oilers”. This was the mentality that eventually pushed this fan’s attitude over the edge.

    Brule cost us Torres, so yes, he’s also worth keeping around, at least for another training camp. Something tells me that with good coaching he can turn out to be a good player.

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