Heading into New York Islanders training camp for the 2010-11 season, you had two players who couldn't have had a different career path than Rob Schremp and P.A. Parenteau.
While the former 9th rounder Parenteau seemed to be in camp more for depth (and an out in his contract that allowed him to leave for Europe), former 1st rounder Schremp seemed to be finally making good on his high draft selection. What would happen as the season played out, and their respective careers since, shows how the draft and an NHL career is as much about in the right place and right time as it is about talent.
But first, how each player ended up on the Islanders doorstep.
The PA Parenteau Story
For Parenteau it begins with the 2001 NHL Draft, where he was taken in the 9th round after 263 other players had been taken. Just for reference, the 9th round no longer exists in the NHL draft. Not the highest prospect in the system, he was allowed to finish off his junior career including an overage year.
Signed by the Ducks, he moved to Cincinnati of the AHL. In his first season he had 30 points in 66 games, but quickly improved posting 41 points in 76 games and then 49 points in 56 games. Despite his production, in his 4th season he found himself traded to the Blackhawks as part of a five-player deal which was mostly just spare parts for spare parts. For Norfolk (the Hawks AHL affiliate at the time) he posted an incredible 51 points in 40 games, including a five-game stint in the NHL.
Once again though, Parenteau found himself on the outside looking in. The Hawks traded him to the Rangers for "future considerations." So despite the NHL stint, the Hawks gave up on Parenteau for nothing. For the Rangers' AHL affiliate Hartford though, Parenteau was a boom. He scored 159 points in his first two seasons for the Wolfpack. During his third season the Rangers finally gave him a shot. He scored eight points in 22 somewhat scattered games.
In the offseason though, the Rangers decided to go in a different direction, bringing in Alex Frolov from LA. Parenteau's signing was late in the offseason by the Islanders and seemed to be more to reach the minimum vet requirement for camp. Parenteau, tired of playing in the AHL, had an out in his contract that allowed him to sign a deal in Europe if he didn't make the NHL squad.
The Rob Schremp Hockey Story
Rob Schremp was drafted three years after Parenteau, in the 2004 first round by the Edmonton Oilers. He was drafted after being named OHL rookie of the year in 02-03 with 74 points in 65 games. Schremp was a prolific scorer in the OHL, putting together 384 points in 247 games. In the playoffs he was even better, putting together 90 points in 54 career OHL playoff games.
In the AHL Schremp continued his scoring ways, posting 53 points in his first season (69 games) and 76 in his second (78 games). Schremp had a brash outspoken personality, along with a few holes in his defensive game (his +/- progressively got worse over his AHL career) that led to him butting heads with old school coach Craig MacTavish. That Schremp had also made a name for himself on youtube with his trick shots certainly didn't help things.
Schremp didn't make the Oilers out of camp in 2009-10 and found himself exposed to waivers for the first time. The Islanders brought him in. After getting only 4 points in his first 17 games, largely playing out of position on the wing, the Islanders moved him to center and he responded with 21 points in 27 games. He even seemed to pick up his defensive play, finishing the year at a -4 for a team which was largely in the negative.
The Camp and Beyond
So heading into camp, the expectations were that Schremp could be a key part of the future while Parenteau would be playing the year in Europe. Injuries though started racking up, including a foot injury for Schremp. But most important for the story is the injury to Kyle Okposo, which knocked him out for half the season. Parenteau went from being a spare part to someone needed to fill out the roster.
While in John Tavares' first season the Islanders had rotated a lot of players in and out of his Right Wing, it seemed a given that Okposo would be the linemate with Tavares and Matt Moulson. That slot opened up, but the Islanders continued to slot different players in that RW spot. Parenteau meanwhile had a strong October (8 points in 11 games) but disappeared with the rest of the team in November (3 points in 10 games). However, luck was about to turn for him.
Jack Capuano was named coach of the Islanders, following a few seasons of coaching the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He remembered how insane Parenteau was in the AHL and made the decision to put him on JT's line. It was a match made in heaven for PA. He had 11 points in 14 games that December, and finished out the season with 53 points.
For Schremp, the knee injury left him on the outside looking in to begin the season. He had 11 points in 14 December games while Bailey was down in the AHL, but he fizzled out in January. Bailey eventually moved back to center when he came up from the AHL and Schremp again struggled on the wing. Schremp's 22 points in 45 games were largely the same as his previous NHL season, but his -19 was worst on the team.
Snow waived Schremp for AHL clear day, he was picked up by the Thrashers, scoring 4 points in 18 games. The Thrashers decided to let Schremp walk after the season and no other NHL team picked him up. Schremp is in Europe now, putting up big offensive numbers again, but his days in the NHL seem over.
Meanwhile Parenteau, who seemed inches from being in Europe, has now signed a large multi-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Looking back, it's amazing how everything came together for Parenteau, it took multiple injuries and the firing of a head coach to get a real shot at the NHL. Now instead of toiling in Europe, he gets to enjoy the beautiful mountains of Colorado. It just goes to show how chance and circumstance are as important as talent when it comes to making the league.