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What is Rob Schremp?

Rob Schremp is a player who has generated considerable controversy since even before his draft year. A number of very bad things have been said about him, and a number of very good things. To track THN’s Future Watch:

2006- 15th Overall: A highly skilled player, Schremp has all the offensive upside the Oilers want- and is becoming more responsible defensively- but they told him to spend the year working on strength and conditioning, neither of which did him any favours in Oilers camp.
2007- 66th overall: When it comes to stickhandling, shooting seeing the ice, and finding open linemates, Schremp is NHL calibre right nor. But he has a long way to go before he’s NHL ready. Schremp needs a lot of work defensively and without the puck. That aspect of his game was a mess coming out of junior, while his strength and skating need improving as well.
2008-65th overall: His ability to generate offence and run a powerplay has translated into success. His work ethic and attention to defence has improved. All that’s left is to make the jump. That’s the hard part, as Craig MacTavish doesn’t think Schremp is fast or strong enough to make an impact in Edmonton.

We get the impression of player with speed and strength issues, who has improved defensively and still has unique offensive talents. After a big dip between 06 and 07, Schremp´s ranking seems stable, which is probably a fair indication that he’s regarded as having some upside yet.

In an effort to see how much upside he has, I’ve generated a list of comparable players. My criteria for selection are as follows:
1) Must have been highly regarded in their draft year (11 of 12 players were selected between 4th and 36th overall in their draft year, and the exception, Marc Savard, went 91st overall).
2) Must have played junior hockey in the OHL.
3) Must have had a prolonged (at least 1 full season) AHL/IHL apprenticeship, as Schremp has.

Conveniently, there are three distinct sets of players in my chosen comparables. Four of them (Jason Allison, Andrew Cassels, Marc Savard and Cory Stillman) were good-elite offensive players at their peak production levels. Four others (Jason Dawe, Jody Hull, Tim Taylor and Todd Warriner) had at least one full NHL season, and the final four (Jason Bonsignore, Brandon Convery, Jarrod Skalde and Chris Taylor) were definitively busts. Beginning at these players pre-draft year, let’s compare their Points/game:

Pre-draft season (Cassels omitted, played in OJHL):
Over 1PPG - Stillman: 1.58, Schremp: 1.14, Warriner: 1.12
Over .5PPG – Savard: .93, Convery: .86, Hull: .69, Dawe: .66, Bonsignore: .64
Under .5PPG – T. Taylor: .47, Skalde: .47, Allison: .46, C. Taylor: .37
Schremp looks awfully good here. Stillman was great at 16, and Allison was brutal. There’s lots of separation, but the best aren’t clustered at the top here.

Draft Season:
1.5PPG+: Savard: 2.11, Allison: 1.79, Stillman: 1.70, Warriner: 1.64, C. Taylor: 1.59, T. Taylor: 1.50, B. Convery: 1.50,
Under 1.5PPG: Bonsignore: 1.48, Cassels: 1.39, Schremp: 1.19, Skalde: 1.17, Dawe: 1.06, Hull: 1.06
Schremp finishes in the bottom third here; and one can’t help but notice that he’s barely improved over his 16-yr old season. One also can’t help but wonder how Marc Savard fell to 91st in the 1995 draft, after an incredible offensive season

Draft +1:
All players were returned to junior. Allison (2 games) and Bonsignore (1 game) played some NHL and Convery dressed for 3 AHL games. All PPG are from the OHL:
Over 1.75PPG: Allison: 2.54, Cassels: 2.48, C. Taylor: 1.98, T. Taylor: 1.87, Savard: 1.81
Under 1.75PPG: Dawe: 1.64, Convery: 1.6, Hull: 1.57, Skalde: 1.48, Schremp: 1.45, Warriner: 1.40, Stillman: 1.31, Bonsignore: 1.27
Yet again, bottom third for Schremp. With the exception of Stillman´s miserable season (worse than his 16-yr old season!), all of the future stars are over the 1.75PPG mark, and we can begin to see the serious separation. For his part, Schremp is starting to look a lot like Jarrod Skalde.

Draft +2:
Seven players spent nearly their entire season in junior, and two more spent significant time there. Starting with junior PPG:
Over 2PPG: Schremp 2.54, Allison 2.40 (15 games), Cassels 2.39, Dawe: 2.14
Under 2PPG: Skalde: 1.89, C. Taylor 1.85, Convery: 1.69, Bonsignore 1.44 (18 games)
Warriner jumped to the Canadian National team, posting a .62ppg. Bonsignore and Allison split time between the NHL and the AHL, along with their junior numbers, and Skalde also split 4 games between the two leagues. Allison and Skalde were both near 1ppg in the AHL, while Bonsignore struggled mightily. In the AHL Stillman hit 1.05ppg and Tim Taylor got .85ppg in full seasons. Jody Hull had a full NHL rookie season, with a respectable .57PPG.
This was a truly elite offensive campaign for Schremp, who I would argue only clearly trails Hull, and is on par with Allison and Stillman.

Draft +3:
All 13 players spent the majority of this season in the AHL. Jody Hull, who’d spent the previous year in the NHL, leads the way with 38 NHL games, while Bonsignore, Convery and the Taylors see no NHL time. Players ranked by AHL PPG, with NHL PPG in brackets following (where applicable):
Over 1 PPG: Stillman: 1.29 (.2), Savard: 1.28 (.21), Cassels: 1.22 (.33), Allison: 1.21 (.16).
Under 1PPG: Convery: .93, T. Taylor: .85, Hull: .81 (.45), C. Taylor: .81, Schremp: .77 (0), Dawe: .75 (.41), Bonsignore: .69, Skalde: .65, Warriner: .39 (0)
This season, the 20-yr old season, is where the critical gap occurs. At the AHL level, all of the players who go on to be elite offensive contributors at the NHL level are over 1.2PPG. Schremp´s .77 has him back in Skalde territory, despite his elite season the year previous.

Draft +4 (Current season)
During this season, all of the players from our sample (with the exception of the Taylors) see time in the NHL. Allison, Cassels, Savard and Stillman all graduate this year, and Warriner, Dawe, Hull and Bonsignore play significant time. First, by NHL PPG:
Savard: .64, Convery: .64, Stillman: .47, Cassels: .46, Allison: .41, Bonsignore: .29, Hull: .28, Warriner: .26, Dawe: .26, Skalde (.18)
Savard: 1.44, Dawe: 1.04, Warriner: 1.00, Skalde: 1.00, Schremp: .94, Convery: .79, C. Taylor: .52, Bonsignore: .47, T. Taylor: .42
Once again, Schremp in the bottom third, comparing fairly equally with Dawe, Warriner, Skalde and Convery. Bonsignore and the brothers Taylor have lost their offence and can’t seem to find it. All of the stars have graduated at this point.
The fact that Schremp did not graduate to the Oilers this season probably shouldn’t be considered the nail in his coffin, as 1) he entered TC at a considerable disadvantage due to injury, and 2) Cogliano, Gagner, and Nilsson all should be considered as applying for the same job as Schremp.

However, for 2 seasons in a row, Schremp has been well back of the 4 stars (Allison, Cassels, Savard, and Stillman) and aside from 2 elite seasons (pre draft and draft +2) has never really been in the same category. Thus, we can safely assume at this point that Schremp is unlikely to turn into a consistent offensive contributor of the same family as these four.

Tim Taylor, Todd Warriner and Jody Hull eventually carved out careers as role players (in Taylor’s case, a very respectable career including multiple championships), which given Schremp´s comments (both recent and less so) seems like something he isn’t interested in doing, so we can likely eliminate them as well. Also, Schremp never lost his offence the way Chris Taylor did, so lets eliminate him as well. This leaves Dawe, Bonsignore, Convery, and Skalde as comparables. Let’s look at their PPG, by season, against one another:

Draft -1
Draft +1
Draft +2
Draft +3
Draft +4

Looking at the numbers, over seasons +3 and +4, Dawe and Skalde are the closest comparisons. This holds true looking over time as well, especially if one omits the pre-draft year. Schremp remains very comparable, with less than .2PPG deviation for every year except his monster OHL (+2) season, which looks more and more like an aberration, as we approach year 3 of his professional career.

Either way, a long, useful NHL career does not appear to be in the works for Rob Schremp. Dawe hit his career high-water mark in his +5 season, with 25 goals and 50 points in 67 games, but by 25 he would be on his third team and down to 6 goals a year. Skalde was claimed by the Mighty Ducks in the 1993 expansion draft and played 20 NHL games in his +5 season. With the exception of another 22-game season (where he was claimed on waivers 5 different times in two months), it would be his best year.

Given the log-jam of mid-sized (or smaller) young, offensively-talented forwards currently on the Oilers, it seems likely that Schremp is dealt to a bottom-feeder, probably at the draft this summer. If he fails to stick next season, his value will plummet to a point where he’s barely worth trading, and there simply isn’t a spot for him.

The high-water mark for Schremp at this point is likely as a 50-60 point guy who is one-dimensional and runs the PP. The low water mark is a few more NHL games and lots and lots of packing. If he goes for a 2nd-3rd rounder at the draft, it would probably be fair value.