Condors’ pairing of Musil, LaLeggia could be glimpse of the future for Oilers

By Sean Shapiro
Joey LaLeggia - Edmonton Oilers

Photo: Bakersfield Condors defenseman and Edmonton Oilers prospect Joey LaLeggia, shown here in 2015 preseason action with the Oilers, produced 49 goals and 82 assists in 156 NCAA games for the University of Denver (courtesy of Jose Quiroz/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

It’s all about potential when it comes to prospects.

And for the Edmonton Oilers, the second defensive pairing for their AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, is oozing with potential between Joey LaLeggia and David Musil.

Musil, 22, is in his third professional season and has been growing into his size on the blue line. A second round pick (31st overall) in 2011, the former Vancouver Giant has started to use his 6-foot-4, 203-pound frame to his advantage.

Musil has established himself as a calming force for the Condors and is a reliable penalty killer. He made his NHL debut earlier this season, and the defenseman said he is looking forward to his next chance.

“It’s been a good season for me,” Musil said. “I’m working on the little things and getting better positionally. I really understand the game more at this level.”

LaLeggia is older than Musil, but is in the midst of his rookie season after spending four years at the University of Denver. He is a bit smaller at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, and has developed himself as a key offensive threat from the blue line.

In college, LaLeggia was a point-per-game player during his senior season with the Pioneers. In the AHL this season, he has 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 55 games and has been learning to play a different game.

“In college it’s more run-and-gun,” he said. “You only play two games in a week so everyone is jacked up and ready to go, while there is less depth so more chances and mistakes happen. Here (in the AHL) it’s more structured and you can’t make those same mistakes.”

LaLeggia has also had the luxury of being slightly sheltered with Bakersfield. Musil serves as a nice defensive anchor, allowing him to freelance a bit more, while Brad Hunt draws opposition attention as the top offensive defenseman.

Hunt’s presence is something LaLeggia has leaned on this season. An AHL All-Star with 176 career points in 257 AHL games, Hunt has been used as an example the rookie should replicate.

“He really has been helpful,” Laleggia said. “He’s that top power play threat and he can really push the play. Those are the types of things you kind of learn from a guy like that. It’s also nice when he’s drawing more attention.”

While Hunt has provided veteran leadership, the Condors young defensive core has also been pushed by internal competition.

“I can’t think of the right word, so I’ll use rivalry,” Musil said. “Of course, we’re all teammates and we root for each other. But, you want to be the next guy up to the NHL and if there is only one spot, then only one player can get the call.”

While NHL aspirations are always in mind, LaLeggia and Musil are also trying to help Bakersfield reach the Calder Cup playoffs. Entering this week, the Condors were on the outside looking in, but have a chance to reach the postseason with a strong push in their final nine games.

“You could say the playoffs have started for us already,” LaLeggia said. “It’s not a win-out situation. But we have to win the majority of these remaining games against some pretty good teams.”

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter via @seanshapiro