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BLOG: Laleggia applying defensive acumen to forward position

Forward wants to help the organization any way he can, including by becoming a full-time winger

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Joey Laleggia is no longer a defensive prospect.

The University of Denver alumnus had only played forward sporadically with the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors but was asked to make the switch permanently after Christmas last season when Head Coach Gerry Fleming sought to spark his team offensively.

"I rolled with it and it seemed to be working," Laleggia recollected Saturday. "It's nice making the transition knowing your coaches have confidence in you."

At Oilers Training Camp, Laleggia is listed as a left winger and is applying his years of defensive acumen to the forward slot. 

"One of the strategies I took on forward was I'd try to do things that when I was on defence, I wanted forwards to do," the 25-year-old said. "Being defensively responsible, making sure I was always an outlet for the defencemen and coming back nice and low. 

"Just things like that help the transition a little easier."

In becoming an offensive catalyst, Laleggia has been able to play with some gifted players. With the Condors, he flanked Anton Lander and Jujhar Khaira. On Saturday at camp, Laleggia was doled out alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - one of his best friends - and Jesse Puljujarvi.

"The coaches did a great job with me - Gerry Fleming, J.F. Houle and Tony Borgford - they showed confidence in me from the start," he said. "They gave me a great opportunity by playing in the top six right away."

Laleggia was able to tuck 20 goals last season and added 18 assists for 38 points in 67 games.

"I just like to help out however I can."

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