The center is back on a bridge deal.
Wrapping up a final piece of free agency business, general manager Doug Wilson has signed pending restricted free agent Noah Gregor to a one-year contract extension. The contract is worth $750,000 at the NHL level, with a $150,000 minors salary and a guaranteed minimum salary of $200,000. The 23-year-old is still waivers exempt through this season.
Drafted in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Gregor has since appeared in 58 games with the big club, notching 8 goals and 3 assists. Sharing his skills with the San Jose Barracuda, he’s also appeared in 35 AHL games, totaling 10 goals and 18 assists.
“Noah showed last season that he has the tools to be an effective player at the NHL level by utilizing his speed,” said Wilson in a release. “We feel that he will elevate the competition among our forward group for a roster spot this season.”
Prior to his time with the Sharks organization, Gregor mostly played with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL — with whom he earned 45 assists in 2016, a league-high among rookies — until he was traded to the Victoria Royals in 2018. He played his final WHL season with the Prince Albert Raiders, winning the WHL title.
That summer, J.D. Burke at Eilte Prospects ranked Gregor 13th among Sharks prospects, saying this:
Noah Gregor continued to take positive steps in his development, playing in a marquee role for the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders last season. There isn’t any one standout skill to Gregor’s game. He’s a fine skater, has a strong shot, and is quite good as a playmaker.
Next year will be a big one for Gregor, who is going to take his first steps into the world of professional hockey. I’m not sure if I see Gregor as having high-end NHL upside, but he’s well on his way to developing into a bottom-six forward with some jam and a decent amount of skill, too.
Now, at the time, Burke also ranked Kyle Wood, Jeremy Roy and Ivan Chekhovich quite highly, so some things have changed over the last two years. The Sharks themselves have bolstered their prospect group, going from 24th in 2019-20 to 20th in last year’s rankings, and Gregor has now gotten his feet wet at the professional level. Admittedly, he’s been a little underwhelming, but as Burke points out, a middle-six ceiling for him would be generous.
I feel like I have to point out the unenviable position of beginning your NHL career during two seasons that were deeply shaped by the coronavirus pandemic and that rings even more true in the breakdown of Gregor’s contract. A bridge deal right now makes sense for a player we’ve yet to see in ideal circumstances, who shows flashes of pure goal-scoring, but still isn’t meeting expectations. There’s also the guaranteed salary, a new caveat being added to contracts this season thanks to the pandemic.
The Sharks are sitting at 50/50 contracts, after Vladislav Kotkov was placed on waivers for purposes of contract termination last weekend. With 13 forwards who are not waivers exempt, Gregor is likely facing another season bouncing between the two San Jose clubs.