Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Looking Marc-Antoine Pouliot, feeling Robbie Schremp

I apologize for the lack of picture, but it never seems to work for me. Someone told me it's because I use Safari. I slit his throat and used his tongue as my wireless card. That didn't seem to help matters. Anyway, no pictures, until I get down to the root of it.

But anyway, all this preseason action has got me to thinking: what do we do with Robbie Schremp? I realize that the easy answer in this case is just to put him down on the farm (or whatever the hell is passing for our farm team this year), for a number of reasons, including the obvious "he might not be ready," to the concerns that stem from the new CBA (namely that he'd become a free agent sooner, and you don't want to give up primetime years for learning curve years). There are also other complications, not the least of which is the improved play of Jarret Stoll (if it sticks, which it might), the presumable return of Marty Reasoner (who was -3 after Sunday's game, by the way, which is kind of surprising) and the fact Horcoff and Peca are more or less entrenched as one and two guys.

If I may throw out a wild hypothetical, though, I think we should actually keep Schremp around. By all accounts, his play has been terrific, and what's far more, almost all (or maybe all, I think) his points have come on the power play, a fact even more impressive when you consider the team isn't working with set lines and schemas yet, particulalry not in the Bears/Rookies game, where he had two PP goals. In short, he's a goal-scoring, PP specialist centre, or more or less what we're always saying we need. As well, I think we have to look at the fact that, if we don't bring one of Schremp or Pouliot up now, next year we're going to be faced with the very real possibility of either going with two rookie centres, or keeping one down in the minors, probably further stunting their growth (barring a trade, but let's just assume that we probably wouldn't get the better end of that deal). Consider also the fact that, generally, players brought up earlier, though they tend to struggle at first, will be better in the long run (I believe Benjamin brought this up a little while ago, though I can't find the actual post, but just trust me that there was a study that came to this conclusion). Of course, you have to assume that those findings are a little skewed to the fact that more talented players will inherently be brought up earlier, but still, I think it's fair to say that keeping someone in the minors for too long is just as detrimental, if not more so, than moving them up too early.

So, yeah, we have a kid, a kid who fits our needs, who looks ready to go and whose delayed development could affect the development of another of our top prospects. What do we lose to at least keep him around for, say, 20 games (as I recall, it's at least 25 games to count as a rookie, and I'm not aware of that changing with the new CBA, though if you know better, let me know)? Assuming Stoll moves to the third line, and Peca and Horcoff split top-line stuff, why not platoon Schremp as a fourth-line/second-line (depending on who's struggling) centre, playing around 10 minutes a game, and especially on the powerplay, and see how he does? If he performs, maybe we can trade one of our extras (presumably Reasoner, but maybe even Horcoff if Schremp really finds his stride) for some other need (seventh d-man, second-line winger, maybe goalie), and we've addressed one of our most glaring needs without losing anything. If he doesn't, he can go to the farm, get a little more seasoning, but presumably the big-league experience will do him some amount of good--at least teach him, better than slapping around AHLers or juniors would, what he needs to improve on.

I realize, of course, this could have its downsides, but I think it's a worthwhile risk. We're a team that's notoriously slow with development (the one notable exception in the last little while is Hemsky), which have been to our detriment over the years. When was the last time we had a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate? Jason Arnott? You can blame our poor drafting, I suppose, but for the most part, we've picked along the lines of what consensus (ie Central Scouting) was at the time (except Niinimaki, of course, retards), which suggests to me at least part of the problem was our development system--though, that's probably a weightier topic for another day, I guess.

Anyway, Schremp's play has made me think about giving him a try-out with the big club. What do all y'all think?


Anonymous said...

Anybody want notes on the Flames-Chicago Game? I'm going, obviously.


Anonymous said...

Once again, Schremp is ineligible for the AHL this year. It's the Oilers or the London Knights for Robbie.

And if the Oil keep him for more than ten games, then it is considered a year of professional hockey for Robbie, and could make him a UFA at 26, instead of 27.

I still think I'd keep him though if he keeps contributing on the PP.

Chris! said...

Obviously, Dave, you and I need to check what the age minimum to play in the A is before we shoot our mouths off. Thanks for the save, Anon.

And while I think it might be a little risky to start Schremp on the Oilers this year, it seems to be worth it. I've been very impressed with his preseason play so far, and like Dave said, he looks like he can fill a hole we've been trying to bypass for years. Though it would suck to have the guy go up for free agency at 26 (!), and another year in the OHL probably wouldn't kill him, he solves a problem on our team right now, and that alone might be worth it.

This, after all, is the mantra of the new NHL: right now. With players free to roam earlier in their careers and caps keeping teams from hanging on to too many skilled (ergo expensive) players at the same time, thinking in the long-term and the concept of building for the future just aren't worth as much as they used to be. So if we've got a guy who's ready to play, fills a hole and will likely come cheap, screw it: bring him up now. To not do so because we might lose him sooner might prove to be needless hand-wringing. Who knows what the team will even look like seven years down the road?

In conclusion, I'd be all for it. If we've got to bring up someone, better him than Rita or Winchester, at any rate.

sacamano said...

It is a tough call.

Schremp is certainly not getting a spot instead of either Winchester or Rita, given that they both have one-way contracts - or at least not unless Lowe makes some moves.

There is no doubt, however, that Schremp will be up for a 10 game stint. Mac-T seems to really like him and was quoted saying that he thought the NHL was a better place for Schremp to develop than back in London.

It should also be mentioned that before he got hurt it seemed that, of all the rookies, Stastny had the best chance of making the team. I believe that he is back in the lineup tonight, so it will be interesting to see what he can do.

I'd be extremely against bringing in Schremp at the expense of Horc or Reasoner (or even Stoll). All have proven that they can play at a high level for a long season. Reasoner was our best forward at times last year, and I think Horc is going to have a strong year. Thinking that someone right out of London will be able to take those minutes for 82 games seems unrealistic.

But as a pressbox/4th line, powerplay specialist - sure.

mike w said...

Yeah, I'd say he gets 10 games and gets sent down to junior, unless he lights it up.

This is the lame new CBA: keeping players who suck because you signed them over the summer when you thought they were good. No longer will the best possible team get iced, and you'll see more tricks like in Ottawa where they're just having 20 players on their roster.

Rock Boners Shoot Rock said...

A player who is considered 19-years-old or younger is ineligible to play in a pro-league under the NHL if he's got a junior team to go to.
There's an agreement in place with the junior clubs that if a player isn't going to stay with an NHL CLUb, then the NHL club can't steal him for their ECHL/AHL franchises.
The easiest way to remember this is the last two drafts.
20-year-old players, fine. (Syvret)
If an 18-year-old can play in the NHL (Crosby), then more power to him, but Crosby couldn't play in the AHL this or next year.

-- Randy in Calgary

Chris! said...

Thanks, Randy. So you're in Calgary now, huh? Any plans to keep driving north and drop by the Garneau?

Mike P said...

Mike W, I don't know if that's really the new CBA or not. (By all accounts, btw, Rita is playing quite well too, although I can't say I've seen it myself.) It's always been the case that one-way contract players will get preference over two ways and junior players. Besides, let's face it, the junior-aged player who can't use some improvements to his game just plain doesn't exist, and if the Oilers returned Schremp and told Mark Hunter "Look Mark, here's what we identified at TC as areas that we'd like to see Robbie work at," Hunter would have to be insane to not at least take it under advisement. With the attention Schremp's been getting so far, and the lack of an AHL team as well, the Oilers will be able to keep a very close eye indeed on their junior players.

Personally, I'd like to see Rita get a chance.

Chris! said...

Man, I just don't get why Rita is getting talked up so much this camp.

Granted, I only saw the first preseason game, but what I saw wasn't at all encouraging. Yes, he's fast. Totally fast. No one's denying his wheels. But he still doesn't know what to do with them. Every time he got himself in scoring position, something seemed to go wrong. He just looked like every other wild-eyed, scrambly-legged, holy-fuck-I've-got-to-prove-I'm-ready-for-the-big-show contender that is busts their ass every shift all camp but ultimately isn't skilled enough to put points on the board and get noticed. Honestly—put Rita and, say, Brock Radunske out there on the same shift without jersey numbers, and tell me you can figure out which one is which.

In my mind, Rita's probably worth more to the Oilers as trade bait than as a player at this point.

But good point on Schremp, Mike P. Obviously, the Oilers are lucky to even find themselves in this situation.

mike w said...

>It's always been the case that one-way contract players will get preference over two ways and junior players.

True, but I think it's more so now because of the salary cap and the weird waiver rule on one-wayers, and I still think teams will hold on to guys that don't belong on the team. I'm not talking about opting for the guy you committed to, not the one that deserves to be there.

So is Rita playing well or not? Morley Scott made it sound like he wasn't doing well at all.

Chris! said...

Really? I'm surprised to hear that Morley's been down on Rita, because Rod Phillips has been practically selling Rita jerseys out of the back of his Range Rover during CHED broadcasts so far this year. It's all "good hustle from the youngster Rita!" and "another high-intensity shift from Rita!" and "Boy, he's really come along nicely!" Bleah.

I mean, I know Phillips doesn't have a critical bone in his body (except when it comes refs calling obstruction penalties against the Oilers), but the guy's been making it sound like Rita's ready to play, and from what I've seen (and from what the boxscores indicate), he's totally not. Well, he could, sure... but not well. Like in a Mike Bishai kind of way. Except with less guts.

Matt said...

It is a tough call. You don't want to send a perfectly capable guy back to junior on principle alone; you piss the guy off, and waste precious years of development and production (e.g. Spezza).

On the other hand, you don't want a Rico Fata situation. The Flames kept him up because he looked dynamite, it turned out he just wasn't ready, and it took him another 7 years and two teams to become a decent journeyman.

Mike P said...

Chris, I said I'd like to see Rita get a good shake this year because, let's face it, this is likely his last chance. If he's given 20some games to prove himself - or not - nobody can really say but but but. (They will anyway, or it'll be MacT's fault, or Lowe's fault, or anybody's fault but Rita's, but anyway.) It's not so much for me if he's playing well right now, as it is let's just put the demons to rest, one way or another. If you've seen any games, you're one up on me. (I'm stuck in Ontario.)

MikeW, I think if Rita gets given a shot and comes up short, the Oilers would be happy to lose him on waivers - I don't think he's worth much as trade bait.

Anonymous said...

alli know is SCHREMP is tearing up the OHL. at this pace (28 points in 6 games, 8 points the last game) he could basically destroy that entire league with near 200 points. cant wait for this kid to get into the league. hes going to be a gem... favors players like Forsberg and Hossa who are strong on their skates, look to pass and can control the puck. i think the oilers got a steal with this kid and hes the center theyre looking for (hopefully.).

overall, the oilers have good hustle and skaters... they just dont have consistent execution in their youth. the powerplay has stunk lately. theres been good chances but with Smyth out its a big time leadership loss on the ice. Pronger or Peca arent necessarily the leader theyre looking for. Smyth is youthful and hard driven... Pronger is more laid back... and Peca so far has been a fair waste of money except on faceoffs for such a highly touted Canadian player (which is part of the reason why i think they dragged both of them guys in via trade in the first place. just like ottawa picking up Heatley to get some canadian nationalism going. silly.).