Schremp wraps up memorable junior career

By Jason Menard

Rob Schremp may not have wanted to be back in the Forest City, but since his arrival he’s done nothing but cut down the competition. In what is his last go-‘round in the realm of amateur hockey, he made it a memorable one.

Schremp, who was a late cut of the Edmonton Oilers, felt he deserved to stick in the NHL, but accepted his fate and resigned to make the most of it. What he’s managed to do in this superlative year is quell a lot of the talk regarding his attitude. Schremp has embraced the role of team leader and, at times, appears to be a man among boys in the OHL.

“I played hard while I was up there [in the Oilers training camp], I was focused, but I guess it just wasn’t my year,” Schremp explained. “When I came back to London, my only focus was on getting back to and winning the Memorial Cup with my team.”

The Oilers first-round draft pick in 2004 (25th overall) tore up the Ontario Hockey League this year, pacing the team and the league with a goal-a-game pace of 57 goals and 88 assists for 145 points. Most impressively, Schremp finished the year +17 and spent his time working on all facets of his game.

In fact, due to Knights head coach Dale Hunter’s philosophy of letting his star players carry the load, Schremp has had plenty of ice time to ply his trade –- a fact that’s not lost on him in terms of his development.

“I really don’t think I would have played as much if I stayed with Edmonton – in fact, they said that even if they had kept me there, I would have only seen limited minutes,” Schremp said. “It just gives me one more year of experience and I’ll go back next year and do the same things in camp that I did this year and hope for the best.”

The 19-year-old Fulton, N.Y. native added that he appreciates the efforts the Oilers have taken in terms of helping his development.

“They have scouts who have been coming to games and giving me feedback about what they liked about my game and areas where I need to improve,” he explained. “I really appreciate that. Obviously it’s a big investment for them and I just want to do my best to make it pay off.”

It’s an investment that is already reaping rewards for the Oilers. The 5’11 center signed a three-year contract back in October 2006. Since then he reprised his role on the U.S. team at the World Junior Hockey Championship, and has been a four-time winner of the OHL’s Player of the Week honor. Earlier this month, he was also recognized by opposing coaches in three categories: Most Dangerous in the Goal Area, Best Shot, and Hardest Shot in his conference.

“You always want to have a year like this one, but you just never know,” Schremp said. “It’s been great, I’ve had fun, and things have really worked out.”

Although he may be reticent about admitting it, Schremp would eventually agree that another year dominating in junior was probably the best thing for his development.

“When you encounter certain situations as a second or third-year player, you may be a little nervous or not know what to do,” he added. “But as a fourth-year player, you’re more confident because you’ve experienced more things. It teaches you a lot of lessons and I’m more mature as a player.”

In addition, Schremp’s name was bandied about in the trade rumor mill as the Oilers were searching for help for the stretch run.

“It really didn’t affect me too much this year because, no matter what, I was still going to be in London,” Schremp explained. “Trade rumors were there, but that’s all they really are – just rumors, and it doesn’t affect what I do on the ice.

If possible, he’s stepped up his production a notch in the playoffs, pacing the league with three goals and nine assists in just four games as the London Knights swept the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in round one.

Schremp said he hasn’t yet started to get nostalgic or wistful about the closing of this chapter of his hockey life. He knows the time will come – but not quite yet.

“It’s in the back of my mind and I think it’ll kick in,” he said. “But I hoping it won’t be for another few weeks – after we win the Memorial Cup.”

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.