The San Jose Sharks did not think Moose Jaw Warriors center Noah Gregor would be available when they selected him in the fourth round, 111th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft.
“He’s a guy that we thought would be gone,” Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke told Paul Gackle at the time. “We got lucky that he slipped. We thought he was going to be gone in the mid-40s, somewhere in there.”
Gregor, who stands at 6-foot-and-a-half and weighs 180 pounds according to Moose Jaw’s roster page, likely fell because of some combination of his size and injury history. He played only 10 games in his age-16 season, but scored 73 points in 72 games in his pre-draft year in 2015-16. The 19-year-old missed more time to injury last season, this time thanks to a mid-season knee procedure, but improved on his scoring rate with 61 points in 52 games.
Less than two months shy of the age cut-off, Gregor was also one of the youngest players in his draft class. Among players that have been drafted into the NHL from the WHL, he finished in the top 25 in points per game each of the last two seasons. He was also fifth among under-18 players in points per game in 2015-16, and 15th among under-19 players in 2016-17.
That’s all to say that, despite whatever misgivings teams may have had about his size and injury history, Gregor’s game stands out among peers in his age group and his league. In many ways, Gregor is a perfect distillation of San Jose’s draft strategy: make “safe” picks in the early rounds, and take chances on talented players that have slipped to the middle and later portions of the draft.
Last year, six players San Jose drafted in the fourth round or later suited up in at least one game for the team (Joe Pavelski, Justin Braun, Tommy Wingels, Dylan DeMelo, Danny O’Regan, and Kevin Labanc) last season. That doesn’t guarantee Gregor will follow in their footsteps, but his performance so far has put him on that path.
Name: Noah Gregor
Age (as of 9/9/17): 19
Last Year’s Ranking: 17
2016-17 Team: Moose Jaw Warriors
Where he’ll (probably) be next year: Moose Jaw Warriors
What we like
Two-way versatility, offensive pedigree.
What to improve on
Adding weight, staying healthy.
Gregor scored a career-high five (!!!) points in a 7-5 win over Calgary in December. His two goals and three assists also matched career-highs in those respective categories.