Rob Schremp was once touted as one of the NHL’s most promising young players. He was a gifted playmaker and goal scorer who was well known for his magical hands. He was a highlight reel regular for his many trick shots he could pull in practice and shootouts, and for his emphatic celebrations afterward.
However, Schremp failed to translate his tremendous play in the junior ranks into a long and successful NHL career. This was largely because of his lack of foot speed and balance on his skates.
"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," said Craig MacTavish, the Oilers coach..
The bottom line seemed to be if Schremp could not to be a top line scoring star, he was not going to play in the NHL. He didn't have the size or strength or defensive game to play on lower lines.
In the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Schremp was selected in the first round, 25th overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
Schremp was one of the most spectacular players to come out of the London Knights organization. In 2004-05 he scored 41 goals and 90 points in 62 games, then adding 13 goals and 29 points in 18 playoff games while leading the Knights to the OHL and Memorial Cup championships. He then upped his production to an amazing 57 goals and 145 points in just 145 games as the league's leading scorer. The confident/cocky Schremp would add another 47 points in 19 playoff games, but the Knights lost the OHL final.
For all his success at the junior level Schremp never found much offense at the NHL level, and never was a full time NHL player.
Over three years with the Oilers organization he would only play in 7 NHL games. They would lose him to the New York Islanders on the waiver wire in 2009.
The Islanders were a pretty weak team at that point, but Schremp continued to struggle to stay in the line up. He would play 44 and 45 games, respectively, in two seasons with the Islanders, putting up a reasonable 17 goals and 47 points, though he was sheltered defensively and used primarily as a power play specialist.
But with his lack of speed, size and defensive game, the New York Islanders gave up on Schremp, too. They put him on the waiver wire with the intent of demoting him to the minor leagues, but would end up losing him to the Atlanta Thrashers.
Schremp's stay in Atlanta was again brief. He finished the season playing in 18 games for the Thrashers, scoring just four points. He was not offered a contract at the end of the season.
Schremp took his game of tricks and skills on a well-travelled tour of Europe, playing, with some mixed results, in many countries.
To many fans, Rob Schremp will always be remembered for what he could have been rather than what he was. So why didn't his spectacular junior game translate into a NHL career?
It seems Schremp never was interested in evolving his game to doing what he needed to play at the NHL level.
"I want a fair chance. I want to be able to play my game. You can take instruction on how to learn play-systems and traps, but I just hope that my game can stay intact . . . (and I play) the kind of hockey I played with the Knights," said Schremp early in his career.
Yet according to Schremp's first year AHL coach Todd Richards, his junior game needed to be tweaked to make it as a pro.
"Right now, I think what he’s doing is he’s bringing his junior game. I don’t mean that in a negative way. There’s things he’s done his whole life that he’s been able to do. Now he’s playing against guys that are bigger, stronger, faster. Those plays aren’t there anymore."
Yet Schremp was never able to convince his coaches that he had indeed evolved, or that he could play any other role at the pro level. He may have had top end offensive talent, but the rest of his game was not at the level it needed to be.