If one thing can be unquestionably said about Rob Schremp, he's one hell of an interesting character. Scouts said he had the talent to go top 3 in his draft year, but because of "attitude" problems, he plummeted all the way to 25th, at which point the Oilers rolled the dice on him. Contrary to what scouts want us to believe, it looks like he very well will find a niche in the NHL, but it's not going to be as a #1 line C, and he's not going to be a lesser player because of his attitude or a waste of natural talent.
Rather, it's far more simple, and boils down mediocre skating and a shot that is more Moreau than Kovalchuk. He's working hard though, and looks like a guy who one way or another will have an NHL paycheck in the near future.
And, reading the tea leaves, I'm inclined to believe that that paycheck will be courteous of Mr. Daryl Katz. For the last few years, the top item at the list of "things you can do to impress the organization" has been to spend a few weeks in California with Chad Moreau. As Guy Flaming reported a few days ago, Sugartits has been there every single day since May 1st. That's not it though. He's received some pretty nice praise from both Craig MacTavish and Kelly Buchberger. I think the team believes in the kid, and that it's now or never for him.
Now, to steal something from LT, and ignoring the noise from his seasons in the OHL, lets take a look at his two seasons in the AHL and his Desjardin's numbers from them...
20 year old:
21 year old:
A few things jump out at me when I look at the numbers. First of all, for all the talk we've heard about his hands and his "NHL caliber shot," his goal scoring numbers have left a lot to desire, to put it lightly. Secondly, he's a year off of Vic's "PPG @ 20" line in the sand.... but that's still only a year. How much will him finally taking his off ice training seriously impact that? Tough to say, but I think the fact that he was only a year late, and did manage to find it before starting to really focus on his off-ice training does give reason to be optimistic.
It's not quite so simple though. The Oilers currently have 12 forwards signed to one-way deals, 8 defense signed to one-way deals, 2 goaltenders signed to one one-way deals, and one goaltender who would have to clear waivers to end up in the AHL. For those of you who aren't so great at math, that's 23 contracts. The only two guys who wouldn't have to clear waivers or be paid like an NHL'er to play in the AHL? Gagner and Cogliano. Something tells me they're not going anywhere. So lets assume the Oilers try to keep JDD here... what are their options?
This is Mathieu Roy, seeing stars and realizing how little he's missing the NHL by*. The Oilers currently have him on a one-way contract that will pay him $500,000. I think that, regardless of what he does during camp, Roy will either end up in Springfield, be claimed on waivers by another team, or dealt for a late round draft pick. The signing of Strudwick truly made Roy redundant, and I see no reason for him to remain on the team, even though he is a character guy and he is a decent option as the 7th D.
Still though, that frees up a 13th forward spot for the Oilers. Just one spot, and the guys fighting for it include Potulny, Brule, Reddox, Truhkno, JFJ among others. It's extremely possible that one of these guys shine even more than Schremp, and it's also possible that Schremp would be better suited to tear up the AHL then sit in the press box in Edmonton.
I don't think that's the plan though. The Oilers have two centers who they look at very, very, similarly in my mind. Kyle Brodziak and Marc Pouliot. Both are 2003 drafts, with Brodziak being an overager in the draft. I firmly believe that whichever one of them losses the "Pisani" center spot will find themselves playing in a different city come October, and the Oilers will hit the ice with:
Cole - Horcoff - Hemsky
Nilsson - Gagner - Cogliano
Penner - Pouliot - Pisani
Moreau - Schremp - Stortini
Everyone will have a conniption when Schremp isn't paired with pure skill, but the fact of the matter is that he'll be brought along slowly, see time in the pressbox, and have responsible wingers on either side of him that'll make up for his lack of grit and defense, along with two of the hardest workers on the squad.
*Parts of this line may have been stolen from Supermassive, a regular at HFBoards ;)