Ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks’ matchup against the New York Rangers, newly acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna joined the team at morning skate on Thursday afternoon.

Megna, who played youth hockey in the Chicagoland area, described the excitement he felt when he learned of his new opportunity to play for his childhood team. 

"To get to play for the Blackhawks now, it’s beyond whatever I would have imagined,” Megna said. “I’m just really excited."

The team claimed Megna off waivers on Wednesday after the team continued to struggle with injuries. He played 141 NHL games in his career with the Seattle Kraken, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.

Megna speaks on new opportunity and the Blackhawks

While he lived in Northbrook, Ill., he and his family attended Blackhawks games at the United Center and watched the team win three Stanley Cups. Now, he’ll make his first appearance in a Blackhawks sweater on Thursday night.

“We used to go to these games all the time,” Megna said. “It was pretty cool to experience it and now getting to play here is pretty crazy.” 

One defenseman he tried to model his game after included former Blackhawk Brent Seabrook based on the way he made plays and performed in major moments. As for his current game, he tries to limit the time spent in the defensive zone and to send pucks up to the forwards. 

With some young defensemen on the roster, head coach Luke Richardson hopes that the 6-foot-6 defenseman can provide a bigger presence and some more experience among the team’s blueliners. As they go up against more experienced and heavy-hitting teams, the second-year coach noted that they will also need someone to help keep the team out of the defensive zone. 

“We just need a little bit more presence back there,” Richardson said. “As with some experience, we've been running a lot all year, and the young guys have done great, but we got to make sure we're playing [with] experience….”

Richardson speaks on Megna and injuries

Although he played limited games this season, Megna felt he grew from his new experience and learned from those around him, which allowed him to be a better player. 

“Despite not playing much, I'm a better player now than when I got there,” Megna said. “It's just kind of putting your best foot forward, so I’m excited to be here to get a new opportunity and that's all I'm focused on.”