Edmonton Oilers sign Joey LaLeggia

On Tuesday the Edmonton Oilers announced that they had signed University of Denver defenceman Joey LaLeggia to an entry-level deal. LaLeggia, originally a fifth-round pick of the Oilers in the 2012 Draft, had just finished his fourth season in college hockey.

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2012 Draft


LaLeggia is the fourth member of the Oilers’ seven-player 2012 Draft class to sign with the team. The group included the following picks:

  • No. 1 Nail Yakupov. After some tough years, the dynamic winger is playing the best hockey of his career.
  • No. 32 Mitch Moroz. A big, physical winger, Moroz has struggled badly in Oklahoma City this season (seven points, minus 12 in 58 games) and will have exceeded reasonable expectations if he develops into a third-line player.
  • No. 63 Jujhar Khaira. A big, physical centre, Khaira hasn’t scored in the minors but has had more of a role with the team. At this point, it seems unlikely that he will be more than a bottom-six forward.
  • No. 91 Daniil Zharkov. Big winger has not scored as hoped and isn’t even a KHL regular at this point.
  • No. 93 Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson has done some good work as a two-way defender in Sweden the last couple of seasons but if I’m reading the CBA correctly the Oilers no longer own his rights.
  • No. 123 Joey LaLeggia.
  • No. 153 John McCarron. McCarron is another big winger, but his scoring has plummeted this season; he’s actually scoring less for Cornell now than he did in 2011-12 when Edmonton drafted him.


LaLeggia is a fascinating player, from the Marc-Andre Bergeron/Torey Krug/Brad Hunt class of defenceman: Small and offence-minded. Bruce McCurdy recently put together a scouting report on the player for the Edmonton Journal’s Cult of Hockey website. I recommend reading the whole post, but I’ll excerpt some of it as a thumbnail sketch:

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Laleggia, who played both the right and left sides at times, was adept at either rushing or passing the puck out of his own end, starting numerous breakouts over the course of the 60 minutes. He was calm with the puck on his blade, coping well with pressure and moving the disc when the lane opened up, often by hightailing it out of the zone himself… Defensively his best weapons were also his footspeed, his positioning, and a good stick. He cut out passing lanes, boxed out players effectively, and showed excellent read-and-react skills. Along the walls I would call his approach “hard on the puck” as opposed to “hard on the man” but he didn’t strike me as playing a soft game. On one or two occasions he struggled to cope with bigger forwards driving to the net, an issue that is always going be a concern with smaller men on the back end.

It’s a boom-or-bust player-type; someone like Krug can be invaluable in the right situation while someone like Hunt might end up settling in as a high-level AHL player. Either way, the big question is what happens when he makes the jump to the professional ranks.

It’s a question that Oilers fans won’t need to wait on long for an answer.

He’s going to be a fun player to watch down the stretch in Oklahoma City, and also in training camp next year. Despite being a rookie pro, LaLeggia will be 23 years of age next fall, making him a contemporary of Martin Marincin. Time in Bakersfield next season is highly probable, but if he manages the transition to professional hockey smoothly he could be an NHL option as early as midway through 2015-16.


  • Armchair_Gm

    Nice we all.knew they needed defense so this addresses that. Small, inexpérienced and probably going to make à ton of mistakes. I read theyre sending him to okc why not on to the big club and see if he can generate any norris buzz.

    Like really the okc barons look great next year if Edmonton leaves Draisatl, nurse and laleggia Down there. Instead two out of the three will probably be in the lineup….arrested development

  • Armchair_Gm

    Maybe Lagesson and Leleggia can be the next Klefbom and Shultz. Every line could have a larger Swedish player on the left, and a small offensive guy on the right. Quickly! Find a Swedish defence partner for Hunt.

  • vetinari

    Hope he continues his development path and ends up as a useful NHL option/depth player.

    My question is when is MacT going to use some of our AHL depth to bring in some NHL roster players.

    OKC, under Nelson (but stocked by Tambi and MacT), is starting to turn the corner and actually produce some NHL depth for the big club and if adding LaLeggia allows us to move some other guys (Hunt?) in a deal for NHL help, please do it.

  • Tikkanese

    I watched some of the NCAA semis last weekend and they called Laleggia the best D-man in the country. Hanifin was also playing in that game. They also said Eichel is the favorite to be drafted first overall though so take it for what it is worth.

  • What happened to Zharkov? He looked pretty competent at his first prospect camp. I remember him being much further along than Khaira. They’ve gone in opposite directions since then.

    • Oilers89

      I also remember him looking great. I’m guessing (and this is entirely a theory) that a lack of playing time has stunted his growth. It’s too bad. I would be curious about where he would be right now if he had played in the AHL and was fed a good dosage of minutes.

  • TKB2677

    The Oilers severely lack offensive Dmen so you have to hope he can develop and turn into a Tory Krug who is exactly the same size and a pretty good point producing Dman at the NHL level.

    With that being said, the Oilers as an organization HAVE to stop drafting all these small guys and signing all these small college UFA’s. I’m not saying to ignore smaller skilled guys all together and draft and sign huge knuckle draggers but if you have a big player who has skill, unless that smaller guy is WAY, WAY better, you have to get some size. When they do go after size, the size is a guy who won’t be any better than 3rd and 4th liners. If you go look at the players listed on their site as “in the system”. You see a bunch of small, skilled guy, then a bunch of big guys who if they make the NHL might top out at a 3rd liner but are probably 4th liners at best.

    It’s a big problem for them.

  • ubermiguel

    Stocking the cupboards. I don’t really care about how he matches up against Anaheims forwards. Odds are he’ll play very few minutes against them. Reasonable expectations: he becomes a very good AHLer, and a good 5/6 NHLer. Credit where it’s due: a fifth round pick being in the running for a major award in his league, that’s solid work by the amateur scouts. Now that he’s in the pros we’ll see how he develops. If he turns into a top pairing NHL defenceman I’ll be very happy and the first to say he exceeded my expectations.

  • CDNinATL

    What is really a concern is the draft record of 2012, looks like Yak and this guy are all we’re going to get out of it. Yak was an automatic basically and a concensus #1 but the rest ?? If we can’t do better than that we will never get out of the basement.

  • billythebullet

    Good signing. Size aside, this player has earned a contract going through the ranks amd deserves a look on professional hockey. With Laleggia we won’t need Hunt in the system, amd if he does turn into a M.A Bergeroun or howeber u spell that it’s a win. M.A wasn’t horrible. And if he turns into Krug even better. If not oh well but its worth the shot.

  • TKB2677

    Looking at that draft class reminds me of what a disgrace this scouting staff is….aside from Yak that draft was ugly…Moroz in the 2nd round, what were they thinking? Zharkov lol, he’ll be another player never to play a game with the Oilers after being drafted by them. Khaira….SO overated…this dman same thing.