After two poor seasons to start his pro career, Jeremy Gregoire took some steps forward with Laval this past season. Is that enough to warrant a qualifying offer from the Habs this summer?
Gregoire spent most of the early going of the season in a limited role. This was at the time when Laval actually had their full complement of players and was one of the better teams in the league (no joke – this actually happened before everything went downhill fast). Coming out of a season that saw him fighting for fourth line minutes at the end, he decided to literally fight for minutes this time around as he became one of their more frequent fighters.
The litany of injuries and recalls eventually moved Gregoire off the fourth line and up towards the second at times. As a result, he got to play more of an offensive role and he took advantage (to a small degree). He wound up posting more points than the previous two years combined which is somewhat encouraging. However, that was a pretty low bar to hit as his combined point total in his first two years was just 23. All in all, Gregoire’s development went in the right direction but he was still more of a supporting cast player and not a core piece which is not ideal for a third-year pro.
Laval: 63 GP, 12-13-25, -5 rating, 115 PIMS, 119 shots
Argument To Qualify
Going back to junior, it took a little while for Gregoire to become an impact player. It was only about his third season where he really took off and became a point-per-game player in the ‘Q’ so there still is a little bit of cause for optimism in terms of him having another gear to get to.
The fact that Gregoire can also play both centre and the wing helps, especially on a team that is lacking in depth down the middle. He’s a relatively safe player in that he doesn’t make too many glaring mistakes which gives him the potential to be a serviceable recall that won’t hurt the Habs if he’s called upon.
Argument To Cut
Let’s face it, even if Gregoire is back for another year and shows a bit more improvement offensively, we’re still looking at a fourth line ceiling. If there’s one thing the Habs have enough of, it’s fourth line players. Heck, even some of the newcomers in Laval have a similar ceiling and they’re at least younger with a smidgen of upside. How many fourth liners does one organization truly need?
Gregoire’s style of play is that of an energy player but he’s undersized for that role. He also lacks the speed to get away with being undersized. When you start to put it all together, Gregoire starts to look like organizational filler and those aren’t the types of players you give qualifying offers to most of the time.
Logically, Gregoire is the type of player they should be giving a minor league contract to and save the spot on their 50-player limit for someone with more upside. He’s a nice player to have for depth purposes but lacks the potential to really be an option in the NHL unless the injury bug really strikes again.
Despite that, I have a feeling that they will give Gregoire one last look and qualify him. Perhaps playing in a new system with a new coach unlocks another gear or two to his game and he can work himself back into the mix in terms of prospect relevancy.
(In a perfect world, they’d give him a raise in the minors on a one-way AHL deal, have him sign that in June, and then qualify him after with him declining the QO. That way, he doesn’t count against the 50-contract limit but the Habs retain his rights. That is legal, by the way, and it has happened a couple of times around the league in recent years. I’d like to see that happen but that’s a pretty unlikely scenario.)
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