Oilers defenceman prospect Joey LaLeggia is attending his fourth Orientation Camp with the Oilers but with one huge difference this year: he will be playing professional hockey this upcoming season after four years at the University of Denver.
“It’s great to come in here and meet the staff and meet the guys that you hope to one day be suiting up with,” he began.
“It’s a great experience for all of us and great to meet everybody and get comfortable. I feel that every time I come here I get more comfortable and also get more confident.”
LaLeggia, a native of Burnaby, B.C., accumulated 132 points (49-83-132) in 156 games, over four seasons with the University of Denver Pioneers. He helped his team reach the NCAA Regional Finals this season.
“I was a player who needed to go to college. When I was 16 or 17 I think I was only 140 or 150 pounds. College really did a lot for me. The person I stepped onto campus as a 19-year old and the person I left as a 23-year old are two completely different people. I feel a lot more mature and I feel those are life experiences I’ll take with me forever. It prepared me to come to pro hockey and gave me an opportunity to go to Oklahoma City after the season.”
LaLeggia's game translated well to the pro level despite him having a bit of an adjustment period.
“That was a huge learning experience for me, just seeing the level that my game had to go to in order to be successful.”
He played five regular season games, netting a goal and an assist for two points and also suited up for two playoff contests. LaLeggia looks to play a much bigger role next season on the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL.
“It was a pretty crucial time in the season when I got there,” said LaLeggia. “I think I got there with about five games before the playoffs started. It was a completely different style from what I was used to. I found it was a lot more structured and a lot more controlled. Guys knew exactly where to be and when to be there. As colleges I felt it was a lot more run-and-gun and we only played two games a week. Guys are super jacked-up to play come Friday and Saturday whereas (in pro) they do it every day. They know exactly where to be. They’re always prepared and that was the biggest thing for me, just learning how to be a pro.”