Jayson Megna: Flying Under The Radar

Monday, April 8, 2013

His stat line reads 52 games played, five goals, seven assists, a minus 10 rating and 26 penalty minutes. Judging solely off that, you might not be impressed with the rookie season Jayson Megna is having and think Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero made a mistake. You couldn't be more wrong.

"It's been kind of a struggle in the points department [this season]," Megna said. "But I have been trying to affect the game in other areas."

The Penguins organization knew what they were doing when they signed Megna to a two-year entry level contract back on the first of August. Sure, he put up offensive numbers at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) last season with 31 points (13G-18A) in 38 games, but it was Megna's all-around game that landed him an NHL contract.

At his only season with UNO, Megna played in just about every situation and excelled - ranking within the top three on his team in both power play points and shorthanded goals as a freshman

Megna's role hasn't changed much while with the AHL Penguins this season, his first as a pro. Megna is still playing that two-way forward role, currently on the wing on the Pens' 2nd line, while also playing on the 2nd team power play and penalty kill units.

On the penalty kill, Megna has been paired most often with Brian Gibbons and they tend to get at least one scoring chance a shift. Did I mention the Pens PK has been tops in the league most of the season?
I first saw Megna play about a month before he signed the entry-level contract and although I didn't know much about him before Pittsburgh's Annual Development Camp, he certainly made a good first impression upon me during the intra squad scrimmage held on the last day of the prospects camp.

He continued to impress upon his official arrival as a member of the organization. Many forget (or don't know) about Megna's great pre-season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Megna was the only Penguin to score a goal in each of the team's four preseason games.

Unfortunately, a lower body injury prevented the 5-11, 200 pound forward from Northbrook, Illinois, from making his professional hockey debut on opening night. Megna missed the first eight games of the season and in his debut with the Pens on November 4th in Bridgeport, he re-injured that lower body ailment, causing him to miss another six games.

Even with the rough start, Megna continued to press on. The pucks weren't going in the back of the net for Megna in January or February but there was never a point where he wasn't generating scoring chances on a regular basis. Now in April, those bad bounces, hit posts and great saves are turning into goals and assists for the 22-year-old rookie forward.

"It's nice to see a few of them start to finally go in," Megna said after Sunday's 4-3 win over Hershey.

Megna showed in Sunday's game why the Penguins brought him in. My description of the play just doesn't do it justice, but luckily the team posted highlights of the game so you can watch Megna's ability to make things happen on the ice. Megna's clip starts at 0:12.

It seems the Penguins have been searching for some secondary scoring this season and when it has been there, the Penguins have done very well. Much like in the team's current streak, 6-0-0-1 in their last seven games, more guys are putting pucks in the back of the net.

With points in each of his last three games, Megna has been one of those guys. Playing alongside Brian Gibbons and Paul Thompson, the three have clicked over the last few games and have added a nice secondary scoring touch to compliment the top line of Riley Holzapfel, Trevor Smith and Chad Kolarik.

"They have been carrying us all year as far as scoring goes," Megna said. "It's nice to be able to chip in and contribute. I think its important, especially now, if other lines can chip in."

Is it possible that the secondary scoring touch the Pens have been looking for has been right in front of them, and is emerging at the right time? That remains to be seen, but it certainly appears that the guys are forming chemistry in the top-six and it is showing on the ice in a big way.


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