Clock ticking on Schremp

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

He's almost become an afterthought, but Rob Schremp is working hard to get back into the main consciousness of the Edmonton Oilers.

Not so long ago he was hailed as the team's best prospect.

Yet four years after the Oilers selected him 25th overall in the NHL Entry Draft, Schremp has yet to crack the lineup.

And with a couple of players having already leapt over him on the depth chart, the former junior star may be running out of chances.

"This is the first year I can say that Rob has a real legitimate chance of staying here," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Obviously that will be proven through training camp. But he's given himself the opportunity, and we're going to give him every opportunity to prove he belongs here."

Last season, Schremp led the AHL's Springfield Falcons in scoring with 23 goals and 53 assists in 78 games. He was called up early in the year, but promptly went back to the minors after a two-game stint.

The knock on Schremp was that he wasn't working hard enough to develop into an NHL player. It's a stigma he tried to shake this off-season.

"I think playing junior you can get away with a few more things," Schremp said. "People try to tell you to do things differently, but when you're scoring at will, it's hard to realize what you need to work on.

"I focused pretty hard in the summer, went down and saw (strength and conditioning coach) Chad (Moreau) and I think I've put myself in a pretty good position, probably the best since I was drafted."

With the London Knights, Schremp was a scoring machine. He had 57 goals and 88 assists in his final year of junior hockey. He then went on to record 53 points in his first AHL season.

The native of Syracuse, N.Y., has not been given much of an opportunity to showcase his talents in the NHL.

Two seasons ago, the Oilers called him up for one game, then returned him in the minors while bringing up a number of teammates to fill holes created by a ridiculous number of injuries.

Last season, Schremp played a total of three shifts in his two NHL games before being sent down for the rest of the year.

"It's a process and whenever they think I'm ready to play, I'll play," he said.

"I look at last season as getting an opportunity to play in a game, and that's more than a lot of other people get to play.

"It's not pressure, or frustrating, you just want your opportunity and I've worked hard to get it and that's where I am right now."

The time in the minors has also helped Schremp mature as a pro and given him an opportunity to see what it takes to get to the next level.

Having had things come relatively easy to him in junior, he has a new-found appreciation for he game.

"Playing in the minors the last two years has helped me get my priorities straight and realize what it takes to be a pro," Schremp said.

"Being down there you see guys and you wonder why they're not in the NHL and you think that could be you in the next five or six years.

"Playing in the minors has been a big eye-opener for me."


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