Oilers Sign Star College Defenseman Joey Laleggia

There is not much left for Joey Laleggia to accomplish at the college level.

The 23 year old defenseman for the University of Denver Pioneers will leave an impressive and decorated college career after signing a 2 year entry level deal with the Edmonton Oilers.

Laleggia has proven over his four years in the NCAA to be one of the elite offensive defensemen in American college hockey.

Here’s a look a a few of just this year’s accolades;

  • Top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker award
  • NCHC Player of the Year
  • NCHC Defenseman of the Year
  • NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year
  • First Team All-Conference

Laleggia became available after his Pioneers were eliminated in their regional final against Providence.

Drafted #123rd overall by the Oilers in 2012, few have thought Laleggia will have an NHL impact. Whether he will or not remains to be seen, however no doubt few saw him having such an impressive college career ever.

Much of the opinion is based on his size, at 5’10” and 185lbs he doesn’t exactly possess the prototypical size many look for in an NHL defenseman.

From TSN’s Craig Button:

LaLeggia has become a top defenceman for the Pioneers and is one of the best college defencemen in NCAA hockey. He’s very steady, smart, is able to play lots of minutes in important situations and can contribute in multiple areas. He reads the play extremely well, jumps into the attack and generates a lot of opportunities. As a senior, he could become a free agent in the same fashion as Kevin Hayes did last year, but the Edmonton Oilers are hopeful to sign him and not let him get away. If Denver’s eliminated in the regionals, that could entice him to suit up for Edmonton this season and cement his signing.

The name of the game in todays NHL though is speed, and Laleggia has that in spades. Blessed with excellent mobility and a gifted offensive skill set, he has the talent that will at least intrigue the Oilers brass.

He’s also a very intelligent player and reads the ice well. While he’s been labelled a somewhat one-dimensional player due to his offensive production over the last four years, he uses those smarts and his speed to put himself in good position defensively. The defensive part of his game is still certainly a work in progress, but it is definitely an improving one.

What’s In Store The Rest of The Way

The biggest question now for Oilers fans is what’s next?

With many college signings similar to this, the player is given a taste of NHL life before the year is out. Often it is part of the negotiation process to get the name on the dotted line.

Laleggia will likely head to Oklahoma City first to suit up for the Barons, but don’t be surprised to see him in an Oilers jersey before the year is out.

The Oilers have significant injuries on the backend with Mark Fayne and Andrew Ference currently out, and if this year is any indication, Nikita Nikitin will likely miss a few more games before it is all said and done.

At 23 Laleggia is not a raw rookie prospect and not a teenager looking to get his feet wet. The Oilers signed him for what he can do now and over the next couple of years. With nothing left to play for, there is no reason not to take a look at him in an NHL game this season to get a sense of what they have.

There’s no indication that Laleggia is ticketed for a long NHL career, however unless he gets a shot no one will know for sure. He’s a very similar player to Boston’s Torey Krug, an undersized offensive blueliner from the college ranks.

Few thought Krug would be playing the role for the Bruins he does, and Joey Laleggia is hoping to prove the same doubters wrong.


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