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Noah Gregor’s time as a Maple Leaf defined by his lack of chemistry with David Kampf

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Photo credit:Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
10 days ago
With Noah Gregor, there was a similar expiration date on the impact of his preseason try-hard approach that comes with attending a training camp without a contract.
In September, Gregor looked like the kind of sparkplug teams require in their bottom six. In October, Gregor was one of the few Leafs showing a consistent effort. By November, when the rust was off the veterans and teams were playing the way they were expected to, Gregor became invisible in the Leafs lineup, and by the end of January, it seemed that even Sheldon Keefe forgot that Gregor was a Leaf. This seems to point to Gregor hitting the free agent market in July. Still, with a new coach incoming it’s worth considering what Gregor did, who he played with, and if there is any reason to believe that Craig Berube might want another look at the Leafs’ depth forward.
When talking about the positives from Noah Gregor last season, two key things stand out.
The first is his penalty killing. Gregor had the 9th-highest shorthanded time on ice for the Leafs last season, and of that group, Gregor had the lowest goals against per 60. A lot of that may be attributed to him seeing second-unit time against second-unit powerplays, but his 4.3 GA/60 compares pretty nicely to David Kampf’s 9.75 GA/60 which shows he was in over his head last season. The Leafs’ core options of Mitch Marner, Calle Jarnkrok, and Kampf all had GA/60 over 8.
Thanks to Gregor’s speed, the Leafs were also more of a threat to score shorthanded with him on the ice, and Gregor had the second-best GF/60 when Toronto was shorthanded behind only William Nylander.
The next thing that stands out with Gregor is the hit count. Like Zach Aston-Reese before him, Gregor isn’t a particularly punishing hitter but understands that when the opportunity to finish a check arises, he should take that opportunity. Gregor’s speed put him in the position to finish a lot of checks and as a result, he finished the season with 147 hits, the third-highest total of Leafs’ forwards behind Matthew Knies and Ryan Reaves.
Neither penalty killing nor hitting make Gregor irreplaceable, but they seem like tools that Craig Berube feels he can work with.
The biggest thing to look at when it comes to Gregor is the context in which he was used. 69% percent of the 5v5 time Gregor was on the ice, he was playing with David Kampf. This partnership did neither player any favours as the duo was badly outscored and out-chanced when on the ice together. Throw Ryan Reaves into the mix and it is clear why the 2023-24 season wasn’t great for Gregor. The catch is that both Kampf and Reaves have contracts with the Leafs next season and with the emergence of Pontus Holmberg, Bobby McMann, and Fraser Minten also likely on his way to the Leafs in the near future, Gregor isn’t likely to get his chance to prove that he wasn’t the problem.
Gregor’s time in Toronto was probably good enough to ensure that someone around the league will consider him for a depth role next season and if the Leafs want to move out more expensive bottom-six options like Jarnkrok, Kampf, and Reaves, Gregor could find himself being considered for an encore performance. It would likely come as a means for the Leafs to hedge their bets on the readiness of players like Fraser Minten or Easton Cowan or acknowledge that Bobby McMann is not a player who stays healthy for a full 82-game season.
What it comes down to is whether Gregor established himself beyond the appeal of the next league minimum salary mystery box player and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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