He was considered a wild card when the Edmonton Oilers took him in first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Offensively gifted, there were questions whether Rob Schremp could transfer his junior scoring exploits to the NHL and be an impact player.
The Oilers were patient, but six training camps later, they eventually decided to cut ties with their prospect.
“There’s no bitterness,” said Schremp, back in Edmonton for the first time since being waived by the club last season. “They did what they thought they had to do to put out a winning hockey team. I wasn’t part of it and that’s how it goes sometimes, that’s part of business.”
Expected to be an everyday NHLer coming out of junior, Schremp, 24, is now beginning to make an impact with the New York Islanders, who claimed the Fulton, N.Y., native off waivers prior to the start of last season.
Heading into Thursday’s contest against the Oilers, Schremp had seven goals and seven assists in 23 games.
“He’s been good,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “Robbie is an offensive guy that we obviously know the skills are there. I like the way that his compete level has come up over the last month and that’s what he has to continue to do, compete at a high level.”
Selected by the Oilers behind goaltender Devan Dubnyk in the first round in 2004, Schremp was at one point considered the future of the franchise.
However, he was sent back to junior twice, then spent three seasons with the Oilers minor-league affiliate, never able to land a fulltime spot on the big roster.
Schremp played a total of seven games with the Oilers in three years as a professional, collecting three assists.
When he didn’t make the team out of training camp last year, he was placed on waivers on his way back to the minors, where the Islanders picked him up.
“Playing in the NHL, it’s about consistency, night in and night out,” Schremp said. “That’s what it takes to play in this league. You’re playing against the best players in the world and if you take a night off, you’re going to get exposed. You have to learn how to prepare every day and with the travel, it’s a lot different than it is in juniors or even in the minors.”
Under a new head coach in New York, Schremp is beginning to find that consistency.
With Scott Gordon at the helm, Schremp was in and out of the lineup, finishing with 25 points in 44 games last year.
After returning from an injury early in the year, Schremp continued find it difficult getting into the lineup every night.
However, he seems to have found his game under Capuano who took over behind the Islanders bench six weeks into the season.
“It’s not that (Gordon) was unfair to me, he just did what he thought he needed to do,” Schremp said. “We were losing some games. When a guy comes back from injury and he’s just playing mediocre, it’s not surprising to see him do what he did. It was my job to come back and play well.”
Schremp still has a way to go in order to fulfill the potential he showed scoring 57 goals in 57 games in the final year of junior. But he’s getting more of an opportunity with the Islanders now then he ever did in the past.
“He (Capuano) is just giving me a chance. That’s all you can ask for,” Schremp said. “It’s allowed me to just go out and play, relax a little bit. Things seem to be going well. We have a good group of guys here and they’ve shown some faith in me. It’s been good.”