SUN Hockey Pool

Schremp the real deal

ROBIN BROWNLEE, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

Brash? Arrogant? Bad boy?

That was the book on Robbie Schremp one year ago. It's the reason the talented, but supposedly troublesome, London Knights forward fell into the Edmonton Oilers' lap with the 25th pick at the 2004 Entry Draft.

With all the negative buzz surrounding Schremp, the Oilers passed on the native of Fulton, New York, with their first selection in the first round, taking skyscraper-sized stopper Devan Dubnyk of the Kamloops Blazers 14th overall. Dubnyk could stop pucks, and was squeaky-clean - the scholastic player of the year.

When Schremp, rated among the top-10 North American prospects by Central Scouting, was still available at 25, the Oilers crossed their fingers and took a chance. It's not looking like much of a gamble now.

To understate, Schremp had a helluva season with the Knights, who set several OHL records before hoisting the Memorial Cup with Oilers' GM Kevin Lowe and chief scout Kevin Prendergast looking on in London.

GLOATING?

Understandably, then, Schremp has been gloating after shoving it up the backsides of his critics - and those of us who believed them - right?

Wrong.

"I want to get ready for next season. I've got to start working out again pretty soon," Schremp said before the Knights' season-ending golf tournament. "I'll just take two weeks off, then I'll get going again."

Two weeks off? Schremp plays at the World Junior Championship with Team U.S., has a career-high 90 points during the regular season, adds 29 points in playoffs and six in the Memorial Cup, and he thinks he's got the world by the tail. Two weeks? How cocky can you get?

"It was an unbelievable year," said Schremp, who capped the campaign with his lone goal of the Memorial Cup in the 4-0 victory over Sidney Crosby's Rimouski Oceanic. "It was a great ride for us and a lot of fun. I saw Mr. Lowe and Mr. Prendergast there."

Mr. Lowe and Mr. Prendergast? What happened to Kevin and K.P.? What's next, Mr. MacT?

Based almost solely on the fact he asked the Mississauga Ice Dogs to trade him after the 2002-03 season and that he'd been benched by coach Dale Hunter in the final game of the 2004 OHL conference final, Schremp arrived at the draft with a bad reputation.

Jim Matheson and I were sitting in Raleigh as team after team passed on Schremp.

Could the Oilers steal him 14th? When they got him 25th, we tracked him down like a Tim Hortons rep handing out free doughnuts. We'll get the dirt on this guy, we thought.

THERE IS NONE

Well, there is none.

"If you take where he was last year, with getting benched in that playoff game, to what he's done and where he is now, he met or exceeded our expectations to this point," says assistant GM Scott Howson.

"The way he played, became more responsible and became a good teammate, those are all things we were looking for. He's matured a little bit and deserves a lot of credit for that. There's a long way to go, but he's grown as a player and as a person. We couldn't ask for much more."

The Knights started the season on a record 31-game unbeaten streak and finished 59-7-2-0, becoming the first team in OHL history to fashion back-to-back seasons of 50 wins and 100 points.

Schremp, 18, had a hand in all of it. His 41 goals and 90 points left him tied for fourth in OHL scoring. He was second to Corey Perry in playoff scoring. More important, Schremp worked diligently at his defensive game. A plus-36 in regular season, he was one of Hunter's most reliable two-way players. He sure flipped off the coach there.

"To have a goal set in your mind the whole year and to accomplish it is a great feeling," Schremp said of the Cup win. "We worked really hard for it, but it was a lot of fun.

"From last year, personally, it's been like night and day. I got a lot more opportunity and I tried to take advantage of it, but I can still work hard to improve some more."

Sounds like trouble to me.


Videos

Photos