Schremp hot with Knights

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Had he responded to his demotion to the London Knights by whining and dragging his feet, Robbie Schremp's critics would've been in I-told-you-so mode faster than you can say, "He shoots, he scores!"

With the negative buzz around Schremp at the 2004 Entry Draft - talk about him being selfish and problematic saw the Edmonton Oilers get him 25th when he was widely considered the most offensively talented prospect outside of Alexander Ovechkin - cynics expected oodles of attitude when the Oilers sent him back to the OHL Oct. 3.

All the 19-year-old centre from Syracuse, New York, has done since is tally 60 points in his first 18 games for the defending Memorial Cup champs - a 3.33 points-per-game tear that projects to 210 points over 68 games. Never mind that points total. It won't happen, but it doesn't matter.

What does matter is Schremp has put to rest questions about his character with his response to the Oilers decision - the kind of call that has sent some prospects reeling because they had the talent but not the mental make-up to accept they weren't ready for The Show.

Schremp a problem?

It is to laugh out loud.

FOCUSED ON PRODUCTIVITY

"When I got sent back, I wanted to be focused on producing," said Schremp, who padded his impressive totals with two goals in a 4-1 win over the Saginaw last night. "I didn't want to be a little whiney-ass baby. I set my mind that I was going to come back and try to help my team be successful again."

While it's fair to point out the Oilers softened the blow by signing Schremp to a three-year contract worth $2.575 million, including a $700,000 signing bonus, some of which he already has in his jeans, that's not the story.

"There's always some concern when a player is close to making the NHL team and gets sent back to junior," said Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson, who has kept tabs on Schremp.

"They usually don't go in a funk for a whole year, but some have trouble for the first couple weeks or month. He didn't have any trouble. He understood the reasoning as to why he didn't make it this year. Robbie's got a passion for the game. I think that showed when he went back."

PLENTY OF POINTS

With 60 points - 46 of them on the power play - Schremp could surpass his 90 points of last season before London hits the midway mark in its schedule. As important, he's done everything coach Dale Hunter has asked - the same Hunter who benched Schremp in the seventh game of the OHL final two years ago. He's one of Hunter's assistant captains now.

"It's been a pretty good year so far," understates Schremp, who has been playing with OHL scoring leader Dave Bolland and Dylan Hunter. "We've got to know each other and we've built some chemistry."

Despite showing flashes of the offensive creativity the Oilers have lacked on their power play in recent seasons, Schremp managed just one goal in six pre-season games before he and former London captain Danny Syvret became the final cuts before regular season.

Schremp deserved at least a look to start the season. The Oilers could've kept him for nine games without using a year of eligibility in terms of unrestricted free agency, but it didn't happen.

"It wasn't that tough," Schremp says, asked about the disappointment of being a late cut. "I obviously wanted to be in Edmonton this year, but we just won a Memorial Cup here. It's not like I'm in a bad place.

"It was frustrating and hard to take at first, but as soon as I got back and saw all the boys, I wasn't nearly as upset. It was easy to get focused."


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