Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets poised to sign UND's Gregoire

Unrestricted free agent expected to pass up final year of college hockey to turn pro

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THE Winnipeg Jets are about to add more local content as they are expected to reach an agreement with hometown left-winger Jason Gregoire, if they haven't already.

Known as a smart, two-way forward, Gregoire will pass up his final year of college hockey eligibility with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux.

Gregoire, 22, spent the last three seasons in Grand Forks.

He decided to leave college this spring to take advantage of a window afforded him by the NHL's labour agreement, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2007 in the third round, but had not been signed.

Gregoire, when was was drafted by the Islanders, was playing for the USHL's Lincoln Stars. He went to North Dakota the following season.

In the NHL's CBA, any college player who does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class becomes a free agent four June 1s after he was drafted.

The Islanders kept Gregoire's exclusive rights up to June 1 of this year, but not beyond, because he left college.

That put Gregoire on the open market early last month.

The only other player known to have taken advantage of the labour-agreement loophole is Blake Wheeler, also of the Jets, the Grand Forks Herald reported this spring.

Wheeler signed with the Boston Bruins in 2008 after being drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the 2004 entry draft.

Gregoire put up seasons of 29, 37 and 43 points for the Fighting Sioux.

His production in 2010-11 was even more impressive given that he played eight fewer games than the previous season due to injury.

He scored 25 goals in 35 games in the season just completed and given his new free agent status this spring, was pursued by several NHL teams.

tim.campbell@freeepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2011 D2

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