Sharks recall forward Noah Gregor from Barracuda

The dark horse candidate for NHL games will make his big-league debut tonight.

The San Jose Sharks have recalled forward Noah Gregor from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the San Jose Barracuda. Gregor, 21, scored 1.3 points per game in his final season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) last year en route to a WHL championship. San Jose drafted the skilled center in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and he’s been quietly impressive along the way to his first NHL call-up.

He will make his debut at wing tonight as San Jose hosts the Buffalo Sabres, drawing into the lineup for Lean Bergmann/an ill Lukas Radil. Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer remarked that Gregor was close this preseason to making the team out of camp and likes his “speed from the wing.”

According to Emmanuel Perry’s prospect success model, Gregor’s Junior hockey scoring progression stagnated a bit after his draft year. Part of that can be attributed to the fact he was injured and traded during the 2017-18 season, difficult circumstances for anyone to overcome. Reassuringly, his scoring rebounded as he led the Prince Albert Raiders to a league championship.

Byron Bader, whose model uses different NHL equivalency (NHLe) measurements, provides us with Gregor’s likelihood of becoming an NHL player and an NHL star. Chris Tierney, while a higher-round pick, shows a fairly similar statistical profile. Tierney enjoyed a clearer upward trajectory and a statistical model that made the NHL about 60 percent of the time. Gregor’s production makes him about a coin flip to make the big league, though the chances he becomes an NHL star (scoring 0.7 points per game) are slim, around two percent.

CanucksArmy’s prospect cohort success model gave Gregor about a one-in-three chance of making the NHL. Between the three models, his range of outcomes is broad, but the age-21 call-up and his scouting reports suggest someone who might approach and even exceed the upper bounds of his statistical profile.

Steve Kournianos writes that Gregor is “ridiculously skilled, making plays at high speed and taking advantage of his linemates’ strengths. He’s a disciplined player who makes smart decisions and rarely do you see him fumbling with the puck if the game is close.” He also notes that “Gregor has a very good wrist shot.”

Ben Kerr, of Last Word on Sports also sees a talented center, if not one who could use some additional size and strength: “Gregor shows good skill in the offensive zone. He has a heavy wrist shot, with good accuracy and a quick release. He also shows a good arsenal of shots, with a strong snap shot, and one-timer. Gregor has excellent vision.”

Bill Placzek writes on DraftSite that Gregor “Has high end attack instincts and the ability to create on both the PP and even strength.” He’s “not the biggest guy or the strongest skater, but he has a knack for finding the the right area with his quick smart passes and shots.”

So far this season, Gregor has recorded two assists and one goal in three AHL games, one of three Barracuda to open the year with a point-per-game scoring rate. This preseason, Gregor played three games, wherein the Sharks took just 44 percent of score- and venue-adjusted shots at 5-on-5 in typically rookie-laden lineups. Despite a statistical profile that so far points to a so-so chance of making an NHL impact, Gregor seems to possess the skillset necessary to reach and even outperform modelers’ most optimistic projections.

Tonight, the young forward will log another data point along his brief career. Injuries have been an issue in the past, so we’ll hope for a healthy debut.