SUN Hockey Pool

Another opportunity for Schremp

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

The flight that will bring Rob Schremp to Edmonton this afternoon is only a few hours, but the journey has seemed like forever.

It's been four years and six months since the Oilers took him 25th overall in the NHL draft, which can feel like an eternity when you've spent most of it wondering why the big club won't give you a shot.

Cut from training camp every year and passed over more times than a Wal-Mart speed bump when the Oilers needed help up front, Schremp has probably gone through all seven stages of grief three times each - from disbelief to denial to anger to acceptance and hope, which is where he was when Springfield head coach Jeff Truitt gave him the news yesterday.

Finally, the stars have aligned for the 22-year-old centre. Robert Nilsson is out with what the Oilers are calling an "upper body" injury and Gilbert Brule, the other leading candidate to be airlifted in from Springfield, has the flu. So, ready or not, here he comes.

"I'm pumped, excited, I'm happy," said the former London Knight star, who has 18 points in 18 games with the AHL Falcons. "You just have to be patient. We'll see what happens."

He's had no choice but to be patient when player after player has been called up ahead of him.

"They're running an organization up there," he said. "When guys go down, they need to fill specific spots and I wasn't the right fit for a lot of those spots.

"When Sestito went up, they needed an energy guy and a penalty killer - I haven't killed a penalty in seven years."

You have to assume he'll step right into the second line spot with Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, play about 15 minutes and get some second-unit power-play time.

After all, isn't it about time the Oilers took a good, honest look at him, surrounded by skill players?

"That would be nice, that's the kind of game I play, pretty similar to Sammy, Cogs and Robert," said Schremp. "Hopefully that'll be the role I fill, but whatever they give me I'll take."

With only three NHL games to his credit, playing four or five minutes a game, he's just happy to be here. Which, perhaps, might be the biggest thing he's got going for him. He's older, hungrier and, by all accounts, working harder than ever before.

"My maturity level is obviously a little higher as a player now,"he said. "I have more patience. I've grown here. My consistency level has been pretty good this year.

"I've only had maybe two games where I didn't feel I played my best and had a game where I looked like a rookie out there. Truitt made sure I've been giving my best effort and ever since then, it's been good."

There will be enormous expectations on Schremp, the most talked about three-games-in-four-year player in hockey history. Fans have been screaming to see him since he was drafted, and the organization has been defending why they haven't for just as long.

Now, we'll see.

"I have no expectations," said Schremp. "I have goals for myself and standards for myself. When I come off the ice, I want to be able to say I played my game, I played hard, that's all I have to do.

"You care what people expect, but you have to be happy with yourself and how you perform. I need to just stick to what I think I can do.

"I know what kind of player I am and what I think I can do up there. That's all I can do, is go up and play and not change my game.

"Obviously the Oilers know what they drafted and what kind of player I am, so that's what I'm going to come up and do."


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