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Gregor’s Development a Study in Patience



Credit: AP Photo/John Hefti

The development of Noah Gregor into a bona fide NHL player is a study in patience.

In Oct. 2019, the 21-year-old Gregor made his NHL debut for the San Jose Sharks, but ultimately, he shuttled back and forth between the NHL and AHL that COVID-shortened campaign.

“He’s learning how to compete at the NHL level and he’s realizing it’s hard to create space at this level in order to create offense,” then-Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said of Gregor. “You have to be good all over the ice because if you’re not creating a goal a night you can’t be giving up a goal a night.”

Last season, Gregor broke San Jose’s training camp as the team’s third-line center, an experiment that did not last long. The winger would hop back and forth between the Sharks and their taxi squad all year.

Bob Boughner disclosed early last season: “We’ve talked many times about his consistency.”

It’s a new Noah Gregor this year though, and it’s not just the two goals he scored 26 seconds apart in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

Gregor started the season with the Barracuda after a disappointing training camp, but since he was called up on Nov. 20, he hasn’t looked back at the AHL. After a slow start, he has seven goals and 10 assists in his last 36 games.

“He’s just got more poise, to be honest with you,” Boughner shared. “He’s learned to slow the game down a little bit in his brain. You could see that, not just in the goals, the plays he’s making on the half-wall in the D-zone. Some of the times he’s hanging on to puck in the offensive zone and using his feet to get out of the mud in the corners.”

Boughner, by the way, sees Gregor as a very good two-way third-line winger in the years to come.

I’ve written extensively about the subtle improvements to Gregor’s game this season:

In Defense of Noah Gregor | SJHN+

3 Things Keeping Gregor in Sharks’ Line-up

“It comes with experience,” Boughner said of the third-year NHL’er. “You got to be in these situations, fail at first. He did plenty of that.”

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture echoed his coach: “You step back and realize that these are young guys sometimes, they’re coming into the best league in the world and it takes time. A select few are able to jump right in.”

Gregor wasn’t in that “select few” – and that’s okay. Couture’s point is that very few prospects are.

Gregor’s development curve is probably the more normal path for a prospect, and a reminder to San Jose Sharks fans to be patient with a Sasha Chmelevski or a John Leonard or a Ryan Merkley.

“He’s turned himself into a good NHL player,” Couture said.

“That just comes with confidence and playing games the league. The more you play, the more confident you get with the puck,” Gregor offered. “This year, I’ve definitely improved in that sense and just my overall game has improved.”

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