According to the Rob Vollman NHL equivalencies, Joey Laleggia might be good enough offensively to play in the NHL as a power-play quarterback. That’s a distant bell for Laleggia but the season he’s posting in Denver is high octane and impossible to ignore. He ranks No. 14 overall on merit. How soon can he get here?
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER FOURTEEN ON THE LIST
- December 2004: R Zack Stortini (257)
- December 2005: D Taylor Chorney (61)
- December 2006: C Kyle Brodziak (570)
- December 2007: D Cody Wild (0)
- December 2008: L Bryan Lerg (0)
- December 2009: R Ryan Stone (35)
- December 2010: C Chris VandeVelde (67)
- December 2011: D Jeremie Blain (0)
- December 2012: G Olivier Roy (0)
- December 2013: D David Musil (0)
In the early part of the century, a couple of 2003 draft picks (Brodziak and Stortini) found their way to the NHL, with Brodziak an absolute home run pick from the bowels of the draft. In recent times the club has not produced anything as impressive but we are getting down to the lower end of the prospect pool—and Edmonton’s prospect pool isn’t hammering at 2010 levels at this point. The 2010 prospect list was so deep the posters here at the blog forcibly removed Colin McDonald from the list! I doubt we see that happen again.
- Corey Pronman: Laleggia enters his third draft-eligible season after a very successful first WCHA season where he was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year. He’s a good skater with a great offensive mind who would be a nice shot in the dark pick in the mid-rounds due to his notable offensive upside. He flashes high-end hockey sense with his quick game processing and he’s really effective moving the puck out of his own end and controlling the blue line on the power play. Laleggia has solid puck skills as well, at times showing above average, but he is a much better passer than he is an individual creator. He skates well, moving fluidly in all four directions. His main weakness is his physical game, which is below replacement level. I’ve seen him listed at 5’10″, which is generous in my opinion as he looks pretty small on the ice, and he is not effective at all when he’s engaging. Despite his hockey smarts, I don’t see him as being effective defensively to any notable degree at the pro level.
- Stu MacGregor: “Joey Laleggia is not a big guy, but he skates well, moves the puck intelligently. Quick-pass guy. He gets the puck up ice. Real good hockey sense.”
- Jonathan Willis:“This is another nice late-round pick. Because Laleggia is a college player, he’ll have more time to fill out and develop his game than a drafted defenseman typically does. This is a long-term pick, a player that might significantly outperform his draft number down the line. It’s a very similar selection to the Zharkov pick in that he’s a boom-or-bust guy who if he does turn out can turn out in a big way. Realistically, a Marc-Andre Bergeron-type career would be a very good return on this pick.”
- ISS: Lots of heart, Undersized D but effective. Good Skater with Mobility, shows offensive flare. Excellent on PP, patient and poised on the point.
- Lowetide blog: Math tells us he’s too small in one column and says ‘sacrebleu’ in the offensive column. His offensive numbers at Denver (43, 11-27-38) were exceptional, but his size (5.10, 180) is on the wrong side of Taylor Chorney. You don’t get 6.05 defenders with this skill in the 5th round, and Lalaggia turned 20 at the draft so he wasn’t exactly at the top of his class as a 17 or 18-year old. It also took a weak draft and 122 spent bullets for him to land.
BY DISCIPLINE, JOEY LALEGGIA
|LALEGGIA 2011-12||43, 8-15-23 .535||43, 3-12-15 .349||43, 1-0-1||43, 11-27-38 .884|
|LALEGGIA 2012-13||39, 5-8-13 .333||39, 6-10-16 .410||39, 0-0-0||39, 11-18-29 .744|
|LALEGGIA 2013-14||37, 7-6-13 .351||37, 5-7-12 .324||37, 0-0-0||37, 12-13-25 .676|
|LALEGGIA 2014-15||14, 5-3-8 .571||14, 1-2-3 .214||14, 0-1-1||14, 6-6-12 .857|
These are really good offensive numbers for a defender and the NCHC is a tough division of the NCAA. Laleggia’s even-strength performance all four seasons is solid but this season (and his first) are out of this world. This is an exciting hockey card, Oilers have a legit NHL prospect with Laleggia.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2012: 20
- Winter 2012: 15
- Summer 2013: 23
- Winter 2013: 29
- Summer 2014: 35
- Winter 2014: 14
Laleggia has been all over the map on this list, mostly because his skill set is one dimensional and this blog likes wide-range-of-skills prospects. That said, the appeal of Laleggia’s offense is undeniable and he’s really good at creating offense.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON
- Lowetide Blog: I’m really tempted to get excited about this guy, but there’s not an organizational buzz and that must mean he’s a defensive nightmare. He’s a very skilled hockey player, one wonders if Edmonton has plans to sign him.
- Chris Dilks, SB Nation: He turned down an opportunity to sign with the Edmonton Oilers last summer to return to Denver for his senior season. After this season, it’s fish-or-cut-bait who will have to sign LaLeggia to a contract, or he will become an unrestricted free agent. Source
- More Dilks: Two years ago, I pegged LaLeggia as a high-risk, high-reward power play specialist if he made it to the NHL. There’s no doubt that he’s become a much more mature, well-rounded defenseman over the past two years. He’ll still likely be an offensive specialist at the pro level, and he’ll still likely be a bit of a liability in his own end, but he’s shown enough positive development in his own end over the course of his career at Denver that he should manage to be a decent NHL player. Source
- DU Coach Jim Montgomery: “Joey is dynamic. He’s a one-man breakout. He also does things at high-speed that most people aren’t used to defending. Opponents key on him, but they also know they can’t come out at him out of control because his feet will get around them.” Source
Joey Laleggia is an undersized defender with impressive offensive ability. He plays in a strong college conference and has been successful during his four years in Denver. The Oilers would certainly have interest (Dilks mentioned Laleggia turned down a contract in the summer) and Laleggia might fast track his way to the NHL. However, as a lefty defender, he must also realize that the presence of Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Dillon Simpson makes his job a tough one. The biggest positive? His skill set is unique in that group and may be the key to his success. If he doesn’t sign in Edmonton, Laleggia should have no trouble finding a good landing place.
2012 NHL DRAFT
- Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. Young Russian winger has been a disappointment so far in his career, but possesses tremendous talent and is making progress. He’s one of the most naturally talented players in the organization. Graduated to the NHL.
- Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Big winger with some skill just turned pro. Not playing a lot so far. Inside the Top 20.
- Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. If he can improve his speed, he’ll have a career. If he can improve his offense, he’ll have a long one. No. 7 overall prospect.
- Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Big Russian winger has been lost in the hinterlands back home. Outside the Top 20.
- Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. No longer in the organization.
- Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized but splendid puck-moving defender. No. 14 overall prospect.
- John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Big winger playing his final college season. Candidate for winter 20.