“It’s a great opportunity for Gregor.”
That was San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn’s first reaction yesterday morning when asked who might soak up the just-dealt Matt Nieto’s minutes in the top-nine and on the penalty kill.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the 24-year-old speedster, the third-youngest Shark on a veteran-laden roster.
Before being reinstated into the Sharks’ line-up on Jan. 16 against the New Jersey Devils, Gregor had been healthy scratched for eight consecutive games, to his public chagrin.
The winger has managed to stick in the line-up since that 4-3 OT loss to the Devils, notching two assists in the last six games. Overall, he has two goals and two assists in 25 appearances this year.
But Quinn feels that he’s getting diminishing returns from a youngster that he wants “consistent competitiveness” from.
“So far, I’ve seen a similar pattern to when he’s played in the past, where I thought he was great, then he was good. There’s a little drop-off, a little drop-off,” Quinn said this morning. “I think he’s gotta get back to do what he did when he first got in with that energy and the passion.”
Quinn was particularly impressed by Gregor against the Devils and the following victory over the Dallas Stars on Jan. 18
“He still does some good things. He’s just got to continually bottle that energy and competitiveness in the first game back and even in the second game back,” the bench boss shared. “It’s not easy to do, that’s a challenge for a lot of players in this league.”
Will the San Jose Sharks’ 2016 fourth-round pick be up to this challenge? Gregor is a pending RFA, who appears to be coming to a crossroads for his time in teal.
San Jose Sharks (14-25-11)
Kaapo Kahkonen will start, but otherwise, head coach David Quinn says the line-up is in flux because some Sharks are still dealing with illnesses.
Pittsburgh Penguins (24-15-9)
Where to Watch
The San Jose Sharks will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 4 PM PST at PPG Paints Arena. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
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