Each year, the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy is awarded to the Ontario Hockey League’s overage player of the year. This year’s recipient, according to Devils.NHL.com is New Jersey Devils prospect Joseph Blandisi of the Barrie Colts.
Beating out Jake Paterson, a goaltender from the Kitchener Rangers (a prospect of the Detroit Red Wings) and defenseman Marcus McIvor of the North Bay Battalion, Blandisi was rewarded for a great season and a great overall OHL career.
According to the article on the Devils official website on the subject, Blandisi, a 20-year old, six foot, 192 pound center from Markham, Ontario has been in the OHL for four seasons, beginning when he was a 17-year old with the Owen Sound Attack. The Attack drafted “him in the third round of the 2011 OHL Priority Selection” from the Midget AAA Vaughan Kings. He has also played for the Ottawa 67’s during his OHL career. He joined Barrie during the 2013-14 season.
His career in the OHL has been a successful one: in 246 games he has 244 points (108 goals and 136 assists). In 2014-15, he was named captain of the Colts and moved into second in the Barrie single season point and goal total rankings with 112 points and 52 goals in 68 games (Sheldon Keefe had 121 points in 2000, while Bryan Cameron had 53 goals in 2010). Cameron also won the award in 2009-10 as a member of the Colts.
The Devils website has a quote on Blandisi from his current coach and all-time NHL great Dale Hawerchuk: “It’s a great story coming off injury last season to OA of the year. He worked extremely hard in the offseason and it paid off.”
According to the Devils, Blandisi had a whopping 28 multi-point games in 2014-15. He had two five-point games, including a four-goal game on February 22 versus the Sudbury Wolves. The article mentions that he led the OHL in shorthanded goals and 28 times was picked as one of the three stars of the game, including first star 11 times. This ranked him fourth in the OHL. He was the OHL Player of the Week “for the week ending October 5.” In the Eastern Conference Coaches Poll of the OHL, he was named Best Playmaker, third Best Skater, third Best Shot and third Best Penalty Killer. All of this information paints him as a total package type of player that the Devils will be getting.
Although drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he opted to play an extra year in the OHL and was deemed a free agent, signed by the Devils back in January of this year.
The Leo Lalonde Trophy has been awarded since 1984 and the winner is selected by OHL General Managers. It was donated by the trainers of the OHL in memory of Leo Lalonde who was the Chief Scout of OHL Central Scouting. He also served as Chief Scout for the Belleville Bulls and the Peterborough Petes.
Blandisi said that the award is special to him because it “was one of the goals I set out for myself at the beginning and I worked really hard to achieve it.”
Obviously, this is a big award for Joseph Blandisi and something that shows that he could be a huge asset to the Devils when the time comes for him to suit up for the NHL club. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, thanking family, friends and teammates and coaches for their support in his winning the award and setting a goal for himself that he then achieved. The Devils will probably give him some seasoning in the American League at Albany unless he really wows the team at training camp and can make the big club there.
Time will tell on that front, but in the meantime, congratulations to Joseph Blandisi on a stellar junior career and good luck to him as he embarks on his next step, the major leagues.