It is rare to see sixth-round picks make an impact at the professional level. Jeremy Gregoire is hoping to be the next exception. While he wasn’t a superstar in his QMJHL days, he managed to play at around a point-per-game pace, while also serving as both alternate and team captain for his teams.
He’s a hard-nosed, physical player who has the ability to generate offence when he focuses on that aspect of his game. The primary issue has been his lack of quality linemates, and his sometimes baffling decision to utilize his hands for punching, as opposed to goal scoring.
Statistically, this has been Gregoire’s best season since he turned pro three seasons ago in St. John’s. With 12 goals and 13 assists he was a solid contributor in a Laval bottom six that featured many try out players and ECHL call ups over the course of the season. With that level of talent around him, and primarily playing fourth line minutes when the team was healthy, it’s fairly solid production from Gregoire this year, and it’s a step forward for a player who has talent to spare.
Gregoire makes a living around opponent’s nets causing havoc and either slamming home rebound shots, or deflecting home shots with pretty solid regularity.
Simon Bourque with the shot, Jeremy Gregoire with the tip and nice finish for his 10th goal of the year. pic.twitter.com/YNQwTRK1rP— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 24, 2018
He has solid hand-eye coordination around the net, and he’s more than willing to crash the net and try score those ugly goals in all situations.
Assuming Gregoire, a restricted free agent, comes back next year he deserves a longer look in a more offensive role. He’s a defensively responsible option that could be a great option to pair with younger prospects. Sylvain Lefebvre, over the course of his tenure, relied on Gregoire to eat up defensive zone minutes, and time on the penalty kill as well. There’s no reason why Gregoire cannot inherit the role that Jacob de la Rose and Max Friberg once had where they primarily matched up against top lines to free up the scoring forwards to do their thing.
The downside for Gregoire is that despite being capable of so much more he hasn’t been able to put that together on a consistent basis. He has the defensive ability, but he needs to show that he can produce more on the offensive side of the puck, especially if he’s going to take over a top six role.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Gregoire going forward is his composure on the ice, and not just in terms of choosing when to fight. Over the course of this season Gregoire got in trouble for some of his actions on the ice, which at one point included a spearing incident, and flying off the handle to start a fight after the final whistle of a game.
Macoy Erkamps spears someone, Jeremy Gregoire comes flying out of nowhere to even things up, and we have total shenanigans. pic.twitter.com/RF94ix71yB— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 21, 2018
This year, Gregoire racked up 115 penalty minutes including nine fighting majors, for comparison in his entire QMJHL career, he had just 11 total regular season fights. He has to be more responsible, especially when many of his fights also end up sending his team down a man, and with a struggling penalty kill more often than not the puck then ended up in the back of the net.
He plays with emotion and his heart on his sleeve and it’s why he also wore an ‘A’ on his chest for parts of this year, but for Gregoire to be the most effective player possible he needs to rein in his reckless fighting habit. His hands are best used for scoring goals around the net, not fighting in the AHL for no reason, and hopefully that’s something he learned this year.
Last year’s review wondered if he was squandering his potential, and while he produced at a better rate overall, the same question lingers. Jeremy Gregoire is capable of much more than 25 AHL points and 100+ penalty minutes, he just needs to focus his game on the things he does well, and delve less into the shenanigans. With his contract up it will be interesting to see what Marc Bergevin chooses to do with him. There’s no harm in bringing him back, but it’ll be up to Gregoire to make that chance count.