'Open canvas' for Schremp

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

A good time? A long time?

Both?

The scope and duration of Rob Schremp's stay in Edmonton remains to be seen.

But with Robert Nilsson out seven to 10 days, the Oilers in desperate need of offence and a strong appetite for change on a team that should be a lot better than .500, this might be as good a look as he ever gets.

"It's up to him, it's an open canvas," said head coach Craig MacTavish, when asked if Schremp's promotion from Springfield is temporary, until Nilsson comes back, or something he can make permanent.

"My mindset right now, without having seen a shift from him, is that I want to go out of my way to make sure he gets a decent opportunity. We have to give him a chance."

DESTINED FOR KID LINE?

Giving Schremp a chance means putting him with skilled linemates and handing him plenty of ice time. He'll likely step right into Nilsson's spot on the Kid Line with Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner, or play with two of the third liners - Ethan Moreau, Kyle Brodziak or Erik Cole.

"I won't say where he's going to be, but I want to be able to give him an opportunity," said MacTavish.

"We're hoping we can play him with guys who can play to his strengths and help protect some of the weaker areas of his game."

Schremp, who arrived in town yesterday afternoon, has been trying hard for the past year to shore up those areas himself, which is why he is finally here.

"I think I know I can put up points, but I had to work on the other stuff," said the 22-year-old former first round draft pick (25th in 2004).

"I feel more like a professional - that's a part of maturing and growing up and playing in the minors.

" I feel a lot different on the ice and off the ice as a teammate.

"Maybe in previous years you expect to be in the NHL. I think this year I'm going to work to get there and hopefully this is a good opportunity for me."

MacTavish sensed from the raw product four years ago that it would take some time before Schremp was primed enough for prime time. Now, from what he's hearing from people in the organization, he's close.

"I knew based on experience that it was going to be a longer process," said the coach. "It was just a case of us convincing him early that he had to do things differently - bigger, stronger, faster - and it was going to be a tough sell because he's had nothing but success coming from junior. But it's a big jump.

"So you put him in the minors, let him go through the ups and downs and travails of the minors, and then bring him up here and hopefully he's ready. Hopefully his game has improved because of it. We're ready to work with him now that he's improved on some of the areas of his game."

The Oilers have been starved for offence before, but it wasn't until this year that Schremp's overall game, and commitment to improving himself as a player, warranted the call up.

"It was work ethic more than anything," said Schremp, explaining the difference between this year and last. "It seems like my off-ice training with Chad (Moreau) and all those guys in L.A. really did creep into my game this year. By this time last year I was kind of a little tired maybe, but this year I feel strong still, which helps you in the defensive zone ... if you don't have the energy to do it, it's hard."

HARD WORK

Lots of hard work, but it's worth it.

"This is where you dream of and want to be,"he said. "But I'm going to take it one day at a time."

Success, in Schremp's case, boils down to a simple equation.

"It's a mathematical function," said MacTavish. "What you create minus what you give up. At the end of the day you have to create more than you give up. That's going to be the pass or fail mark with him, as it is with every other player.

"He's got lots of stuff that can help us. We're not depending on him to be a world beater, we just want him to create more than he gives up."


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