By Juliette Connors
Joe Fleming of Wellesley, MA has signed an Entry Level Contract with the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
“I’m just so happy, I’m really excited,” he exclaimed. “It’s a dream come true, and the start of everything coming to reality.”
The contract was a pleasant surprise for Fleming. “I talked to the coaches, but really wasn’t sure what was gonna happen. My parents, sister, and family are all so supportive and excited for me as well, they’ve been awesome.”
Neutral Zone is very familiar with Fleming and have watched his consistent improvement over the years. Head of US Scouting Brian Murphy noted him in 2018 in our Mass Festival Report:
“One of our favorite players here and a bit under the radar. Hits to defend and involves his stick to find pucks after contact. He kept his gaps tight, squeezed off the rush, got off checks and started plays up ice simply and quickly. Anticipates well and gets to defensive spots before opposing forwards in his end. Went back to front quickly and can jump up ice. He is good with possession and seemed to gain confidence and want the puck more as the event went on. Touch and intent on his passes were excellent. Projects as a two-way all situations type. Smart player with nice upside. Grade: A-“Mass Festival: 2018
“Joe always took/takes great tracks to defend. His angles are superb. I actually wondered if he had a football background because of the way he tracked and punished opponents. He has improved his hands, ability to move the puck and his feet dramatically over the last couple years. Here is a kid who never was to a USA Hockey National Development Camp. He was not deterred and just went to work.”Brian Murphy
Joe moved from Wellesley High School to Proctor Academy and then COVID hit. Fleming played for Neutral Zone’s PHL (Pandemic Hockey League) run by Ian Moran and credited that experience for allowing him to keep improving:
“That experience was fantastic. Four practices and two games. Every aspect of the PHL helped me. I improved and that is how I was committed to Northeastern. I learned a ton and was drafted by Cedar Rapids soon after. In a difficult time, the PHL was an awesome way to keep getting better.”Joe Fleming
Ian Moran added:
“Joe Fleming is a truck. He is also a heck of a kid”
The Cedar Rapids Roughriders defenseman returned this week from the Knights development camp, where he put on a stellar performance and impressed many. His friendly demeanor and optimistic attitude helped him settle in quickly.
“It was my first time in Vegas, actually. I went out there with an open mind, not knowing many people, but the coaches and everybody else were just awesome. Everyone in there was acting and playing like a pro. As a younger guy, I tried my best to follow the lead of the guys who had been there before, knowing that they were doing things correctly. I sat next to Brendon Brisson in the locker room and he was really helpful, telling me how not to be nervous and that sort of thing.”
Going into this season, Fleming’s still figuring out his exact plans, but will be heading to rookie camp in September, which he’s thrilled for. He said that as a bigger player, he’ll be focusing on improving his quickness and lateral agility and continuing to utilize his offensive talent.
All in all, Fleming’s hard work and passion have paid off, and he’s heading into the next part of his career enthusiastically.
“Probably gonna throw it in the bank,” Fleming said wisely of his new contract money, with a laugh. “I’m sure that’s what my dad will make me do.”
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images