Another Burnaby boy drafted by Oilers
It started out as just another sleepy Saturday morning in the Laleggia household in Burnaby when son Joey's cellphone rang.
His mom, Carla, heard him say, "Hello" and after a brief pause Joey started screaming and yelling.
Believe it or not, she hasn't stopped smiling ever since.
"It was awesome!" said Carla on Monday. "It was an indescribable feeling."
It turns out Joey was screaming for Joy because he was getting a chance at his lifelong dream. At the other end of the line was Joey's hockey advisor telling him he had been drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round of the NHL entry draft, 123rd overall, that was taking place in Pittsburgh. It was the third year he was eligible for the draft having been passed over the previous two years likely because he's a defenceman that's just five-foot-10.
"We were just so happy someone took notice this year," said Carla. "It's something he's wanted for a long, long time. It's just such a nice opening of a door."
Saturday turned into quite a celebratory day in the Laleggia house since sister Natalie was having her SFU graduation party. "It was absolutely a thrilling, thrilling day," said Carla. Sunday turned out to be Joey's 20th birthday, and on Monday he was on a flight to Edmonton to participate in the Oilers' summer prospect camp.
Joey just completed his first year with the University of Denver Pioneers where he was named national rookie of the year for scoring 11 goals and 27 assists with a plus-13 rating. The previous two seasons he spent in the B.C. Hockey League with the Penticton Vees winning the BCHL MVP in 2010-11.
Although it may take a while, there's a chance he'll eventually be reunited with another Burnaby boy, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who the Oilers took first overall in the 2011 entry draft and just finished second in NHL rookie of the year voting. The pair played together on the Burnaby Winter Club (BWC) major bantam team and the Northwest Giant major midget squad that played out of the BWC.
In fact, the Laleggia family vacationed in Las Vegas last week and ran into Nugent-Hopkins attending the NHL awards. Carla said Nugent-Hopkins told Joey he was going to put in a good word with Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
"I told Joey you give Ryan a big hug because I'm sure he had lots of good things to tell Mr. Tambellini," said Carla.
Although the current plan is for Laleggia to return to Denver in September, if he signs a pro contract with the Oilers he would be eligible to play for their American Hockey League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blazers.
Laleggia played on the Giants with two other players taken Saturday. Right winger Colton Sisson was taken 50th overall by the Nashville Predators after playing two seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets. One pick behind Sissons was defenceman Dalton Thrower, who played three seasons for the Saskatoon Blades. He was selected by the Montreal Canadiens.
Two other former Giants were also picked. Defenceman Griffin Reinhart went fourth overall to the New York Islanders while Alex Kerfoot was taken in the fifth round, 150th overall by the New Jersey Devils. Both are sons of famous father. Paul Reinhart is a former NHL defenceman, including the Vancouver Canucks, while Kerfoot’s dad Alex is a Burnaby native who owns the Vancouver Whitecaps.