Who would have thought that a depth player who was not qualified by the struggling San Jose Sharks would emerge as a surprise standout for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season? But that’s exactly what Noah Gregor has accomplished.

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Gregor Has the Speed to Burn

Gregor’s journey with the Maple Leafs began with a professional tryout agreement (PTO) in September, and he quickly made an impression during training camp. He’s lived up to his initial expectations of being a solid fourth-line forward since then. However, what attracted the coaching staff’s attention at the time was Gregor’s speed. That helped him earn him a spot on the fourth line alongside David Kampf and Ryan Reaves (at least for now Reaves is on that line).

Noah Gregor, now with the Maple Leafs

The 25-year-old forward’s commitment and work ethic became evident early. After his successful preseason, Gregor agreed to a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs in October. As noted, his speed has helped him become a dynamic energy player, contributing offensively and defensively. Gregor, while not setting the ice on fire with his scoring, can put the puck in the net. For example, in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on November 11, he scored a goal and added an assist. However, that broke a 13-game point drought since Opening Night.

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Gregor’s Most Important Game of the Season to Date

One of the defining moments of Gregor’s unexpected impact happened during a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on November 28. Not only did he score his third goal of the season to tie the game, but he also played the hero in the shootout, when his score pushed his team to the win. In that game, his goal came when he stole the puck at the Toronto blue line and scored on a clear breakaway.

Gregor’s Versatility Is Earning Him More Ice Time

Gregor’s versatility has become a valuable asset for the Maple Leafs. He’s contributed points, hits, and energy through his 22 games played. Despite playing the season on the fourth line, his consistent performances have added to the team’s success. His determination to make the most of the opportunity presented by the Maple Leafs has turned him into a success story and a key part of the team’s lineup.

Gregor’s impact for the Maple Leafs extends past his modest point production, with head coach Sheldon Keefe praising the depth forward for his versatility and contributions in limited minutes. While Gregor has accumulated only three goals and four points in 22 games, his role as a checker and energy player has made him a valuable asset.

For me, Gregor’s 200-foot game makes him a more affordable version of former Maple Leafs player Sam Lafferty. Gregor’s proficiency in penalty killing has further solidified his importance to the team. Keefe expressed a desire to provide Gregor with more ice time, emphasizing the need for the team to secure leads rather than playing catch-up for that to happen.

Gregor’s unexpected rise from a professional tryout to a key contributor exemplifies the unpredictability and excitement that often define NHL careers.

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