Believe it or not, Rob Schremp could in all likelihood make his long awaited return to the National Hockey League during the 2015-16 season.
A former first round pick by the Edmonton Oilers, 25th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, it has been an astonishing four seasons since the highly talented center last plied his trade at hockey’s highest level.
An Unexpected Stay
Since the 2010-11 season in which he played 18 games with the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers, scoring three goals and four points, Schremp skated for six different teams at various levels of competition in an incredible five different countries, namely Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Latvia and Austria.
Admittedly, Schremp did not plan to play in Europe for such a long period of time, indicating that not only did he jump at any contract offered to him, but also that he felt stuck overseas.
“I thought I was going to go there and come right back, soon it was like, ‘aw man, I’m stuck here’.”
Throughout his time in Europe, Schremp played in the Swedish Hockey League (SweHL), Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Switzerland National League (Swiss-A) and the Austrian League, with his most successful play coming with MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik in 2011-12 and Zug in 2013-14, two well known and highly competitive teams.
With MODO of the SweHL, Schremp finished third in team scoring, netting 19 goals and 41 points in 55 games. With Zug, Schremp finished tied for the team lead in scoring with 9 goals and 36 points over 42 games.
Ready to Return
“In years past, I think I panicked a little bit because I didn’t have a job, when someone called, I took it. This year I said no. I have to be patient and try to get back”
This was Schremp’s perspective following his four years spent playing hockey in Europe. Although he had enjoyed his time across the pond, it remained clear to him that his ultimate goal was to return to North America and the NHL.
As a result, Schremp accepted a Professional Try-Out in September of 2015 with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League, affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. After an impressive training camp, the Pirates set in motion Schremp’s road to redemption, signing him to a one-year AHL contract.
Thus far, Schremp has made the most of his second opportunity in the AHL, providing the Pirates with consistent and productive play. In fact, through his team’s first eight games played, Schremp had netted an impressive six goals and eight points, both totals which led the Pirates roster.
If he continues his strong, highly productive play, it will be only a matter of time before Schremp is re-called by the Florida Panthers, and ultimately given a second chance to prove to not only himself, but also the hockey world, that he and the incredible skills he is best know for can in fact sustain and thrive in the NHL for an extended period of time.
“I’ve grown up a lot over the years and now all I want is a shot to prove my game. I’m in a different spot now, I’m a different guy.”
Brett Slawson is a four-year veteran of The Hockey Writers who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL prospects, and the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Contact Brett on Twitter @brettslawson92, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.