It’s easy to overlook Joey LaLeggia. He was bypassed in the 2011 NHL draft and wasn’t drafted until the 5th round in 2012. Plus, he’s only 5’9″, undersized for a defensemen.
But LeLeggia is once again posting impressive numbers for the Denver Pioneers. So far, he has 3 goals and 5 assists. Those 8 points put him in a tie for 26th in NCAA Division I scoring. Only one defenseman has more points than LeLeggia.
In a story in the Denver Post, Denver coach George Gwozdecky said of LaLeggia’s 2011-12 rookie season,
The ability to create offense in juniors doesn’t necessarily translate to this level, and we’ve had some pretty good defensemen who have chipped in right away for us, but nobody has been as impactive as Joey has this year. The success of our power play (23.3 percent) is partly due to what he has contributed.
Prior to the draft, Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus ranked LaLeggia 89th among draft-eligible players.
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.
If you’d like to follow LaLeggia on Twitter, his handle is @JLeggy21.
Here’s a quick look at how all the NCAA prospects are doing so far this season.
Jujhar Khaira – F
Drafted 63rd overall in 2012
8 GP / 0 G / 4 A / 4 PTS / 23 PIM
John McCarron – F
Drafted 92nd overall in 2011
4 GP / 0 G / 2 A / 2 PTS / 6 PIM
Kyle Bigos – D
Drafted 99th overall in 2009
3 GP / 1 G / 0 A / 1 PTS / 16 PIM
Dillon Simpson – D
Drafted 92nd in 2011
6 GP / 0 G / 2 A / 2 PTS / 2 PIM
Joey LaLeggia – D
Drafted 99th overall in 2012
6 GP / 3 G / 5 A / 8 PTS / 4 PIM