In his debut in the Top 25 under 25 list, Jérémy Grégoire has edged in at 25th overall, however with his progress thus far it is arguable it will not take him that long to work his way further up the rankings.
Grégoire is not likely going to impress many fans with his size, as while he does not fit into the infamous 'smurf' category that upsets so many, he stands at best 6' tall so he is not adding any significant size to the organizational depth chart, even though such concerns continue to be a matter far more of optics than an actual issue.
More on Gregoire: A Review of the Jérémy Grégoire pick at the 2013 NHL Draft.
While he had an unremarkable scoring history upon his selection by the Canadiens, with a mere 62 points in 123 regular season games in the Quebec Major Junior league, he would go on to have a breakout year with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar this past year which led to his far higher profile compared to 1 year ago.
As we can see, Grégoire was a divisive candidate among our voters this year. His rankings went as high as 18 and as low as 36, which is not uncommon among lesser known prospects, especially ones that are still rated to likely rate at best as a future checker. Andrew and Arik thought the most of him, while Stephen, Mark and Scott consider him to the farthest from having a potential future impact for the Canadiens. My assessment of 22 came from his solid season, but tempered it versus his likely scoring impact in the pro ranks.
Grégoire is credited across the board as a very competitive two-way forward with a strong physical game, while again not posessing an overly large frame, he is credited to have very good strength for his size that he is very willing to employ as needed. His invitation this summer to Team Canada's camp for their entry to the IIHF Under-20 World Championships this year is a solid sign that his talents as a two-way forward are recognized by important figures in the junior hockey world as well.
His offensive skills development in the past season is also a positive sign that he is growing his tools to be a more well-rounded skater. He essentially matched his career goal output previous to his 2013-14 season this past year and managed to best his career assist production to date this past year as well. This is a good sign he can continue to develop towards being an effective checking-type forward at the pro level, as even a checker should be displaying good puck skills in the junior system in order to be effective in the pro level of the game, his finish as the highest-scoring forward for Baie-Comeau in the playoffs was an impressive achievement for the 18-year old.
Unfortunately, Grégoire finds himself at a disadvantage in the skating department versus a number of his fellow prospects, rated as having a below-average stride as a skater upon drafting. He has reportedly improved on this mark but he is probably not a player who will ever be considered a speedster, which does put him at a disadvantage versus his fellows in the system who are fleeter of foot, or are just more skilled. He may need to erase this as a weakness entirely to move ahead.
Also to consider is that while he's shown great strides in improving his puck skills versus his previous two seasons, it is worth noting he played on a very dominant Baie-Comeau squad this past year that finished 1st in the Quebec league this past season and were nearly league champions after bowing out in a 7-game series for the President's Cup to the Val D'Or Foreurs. With Baie-Comeau losing some of their veteran talent for the 14-15 season it will be worth noting how he works with less around him.
At the present time, Gregoire's best possible projection is likely as a 4th-line NHL forward with a potential of 3rd-line action depending upon the depth of the Canadiens team he may skate for and how much further he progresses with his puck skills and skating abilities.
Also while he's made a notable growth in his offensive talents, point-per-game status at his age is more a sign that he's progressing as he should, but not that he is exceeding expectations to the point where you might consider if he is a future scoring threat at the pro level. Granted, if he continues to make reasonable growth as he is now, he is probably well within range to compete as a checking-type forward in the NHL, which is much more than many 6th-round prospects ever manage. It is also worth mentioning that as one of the youngest members of his draft class as a September birthday that he may have more room to grow versus others.