Here’s the equation for Noah Gregor to stay in the line-up.
On one hand, through mid-season, Gregor is an impressive third among San Jose Sharks forwards with 6.69 Offense-Generating Plays Per 20 at 5-on-5. He’s behind Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl in this key category.
Per SPORTLOGiQ, Offense-Generating Plays “are made up of all plays that lead to scoring chances. In other words, they’re plays that move the puck into high danger areas or situations, recovering pucks for your team, and putting high quality shot attempts on net.”
On the other hand, and a big reason why the speedy winger has been healthy scratched for most of the season?
Gregor is the third-worst Sharks forward with 1.63 Puck Battle Wins Per 20. Granted, he is ahead of line-up staples Nick Bonino and Luke Kunin in this category, but this number doesn’t reflect the percentage of puck battles won i.e. a player of his skating ability is around the puck more, relatively, than the slower Bonino and Kunin.
“Just consistent competitiveness. It’s really that simple,” Quinn said of what he wants from Gregor two weeks ago. “He and I have had plenty of conversations about it. I know he’s working hard on trying to get to that. Hopefully, the next time he gets in there, he takes advantage of the opportunity.”
This doesn’t mean just Puck Battle Wins, by the way, but puck battles are certainly a part of competitiveness.
Anyway, that’s two parts of the equation. Here’s the third part.
You can get away with being strong at creating offense and not so strong at winning puck battles – for example, just ahead of Gregor in Puck Battle Wins on the Sharks are Kevin Labanc and Alexander Barabanov – if you produce.
Labanc is second among San Jose Sharks forwards with 2.23 Points Per 60 at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick. Barabanov is fifth at 1.86. Gregor is dead-last at 0.54.
In all, Gregor has two goals and zero assists in 19 appearances this season.
It’s nothing earth-shattering: If you’re going to be an offense-first player, you better score. That, of course, has been a Gregor issue, especially the last two years, and even a bit of a running joke in the San Jose Sharks locker room.
“That’s exactly the equation,” Quinn said today. “I’m confident [in him though]. I know that it may not seem it.”
Speaking to that, it looks like Gregor will draw into the line-up tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils, ironically, ahead of Labanc.
Quinn, on Labanc, who based on lines today might get scratched in favor of Gregor tomorrow: "He's just got to play better. There's not really one thing. It's an overall thing. But he's aware."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 15, 2023
Hopefully, Gregor can get some run in the line-up – it’s undeniable that his speed and the related ability to generate scoring chances – are assets. We saw that last year:
And certainly, nobody is asking Gregor to produce at even a Labanc or Barabanov rate.
Here’s another equation: Maybe Gregor can secure his place in the line-up with a little more production and a little more “consistent competitiveness”? It doesn’t have to be one or another.
That will be, no pun intended, his goal tomorrow.
Noah Gregor told the Mercury News recently that he wanted “a little more communication” from David Quinn and the San Jose Sharks coaching staff.
David Quinn addressed that today, and considers the air, at least on his side, cleared between he and Gregor: “When I met with him the other day, we talked about that. I said, we had that talk in Chicago, which was January 1, here we are on the 12th.”
Gregor was scratched for the New Year’s Day tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks and has been sat for the last eight games. Quinn says they had “kind of a long conversation” in the Windy City.
“I know you haven’t played since then. Assistants have said something to you. Grabbing you again today to say you’re close. Keep doing what you’re doing. We’ve talked about what you needed to do,” the head coach added. “I actually said to him that I feel like I should come to [him] every day, but we’ve talked about this for six months now. I don’t feel like I gotta say it to you every single time.”
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