Before the Penguins’ prospect development camp in July, I sat down with Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald and asked him to tell me about the free-agent players that had been invited.
Fitzgerald pointed out forward Jayson Megna, a player they had seen light it up for the University of Nebraska-Omaha while also checking on Penguins prospect and Mavericks forward Josh Archibald, as an individual the organization was coveting.
“The attraction there for us as an organization was just his overall play,” Fitzgerald said of Megna, who led all Mavericks freshmen with 31 points (13G-18A) in 2011-12. “He’s smart, he’s skilled, has a strong work ethic. He just seemed to have those natural Pittsburgh tendencies, Penguin tendencies.”
The respect and admiration the Penguins had for Megna turned out to be mutual, as he signed a two-year deal with the franchise following a solid performance at camp on Aug. 1.
Instead of celebrating, Megna vowed that he was going to do everything in his power to be his best for when training camp opened in September. And judging from his performance in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s preseason, he did just that.
Megna thoroughly impressed the WBS and Pittsburgh coaching staffs throughout training camp practices, inter-squad scrimmages and preseason games. He led WBS with three goals in three exhibition contests, was a force around the net and was productive on the power play.
“He’s a high compete, high IQ player,” WBS head coach John Hynes said of the 22-year-old Chicago native. “You can see his speed. He has good talent, and he can do things at a high pace and under pressure. Because of his work ethic and smarts, he finds way to score goals.
“He has an idea of where to be. His anticipation is good. And when he’s under pressure, he knows what he’s going to do before he gets the puck. I think that’s what helps guys be able to produce offense at this level.”
Megna says he’s still got a lot of work to do in order to be successful this upcoming season, but is feeling more and more comfortable every time he steps on the ice.
“Pay attention to details,” he said of the biggest lesson he took from the preseason. “I think out there, especially since everyone is so good and everyone is in position, it’s important to be very detailed on the ice and in the game plan, what you’re doing – forechecking, backchecking, on the rush, especially in the defensive zone.”
And that’s something he’s excited to work on with Hynes and the rest of the Penguins coaching staff.
“Great impression of them so far,” Megna said. “Especially at this level, it’s very important to develop your players, and they’re very detail-oriented people and coaching staff. That’s great. That’s what you want at this level – at any level. You want to be able to get better and if you’re focused on the details, it’s just going to make you a better player in the long run.”
How would you describe your playing style?
I would say I’m a two-way forward. I take a lot of pride in the defensive zone. I like to create plays on the rush. I think I’m a good skater and I’m able to create plays in the offensive zone as well as play defense in our zone as well.
Who do you model your game after?
I love watching Jordan Staal play. He’s a great player. He’s a great skater. Really good skill and he’s also very good in the defensive zone, too.
Who was your favorite team growing up?
I grew up in Chicago, so I was a huge Blackhawks fan.
What got you started in hockey?
I actually went to a birthday party when I was 7 and fell in love with the game. We were skating around a rink and it made me want to get into hockey. My parents signed me up for a house league and it just kind of went from there.
What’s an interesting fact/something people don’t know about you?
I was born in Florida. There aren’t too many people playing hockey that are born there.