A month ago, center Jayson Megna’s dream of playing in the NHL seemed like a long shot. He was already 22 years old and, having gone undrafted during his years of eligibility, wasn’t a member of any hockey organization.
A lot can change in a month.
Megna signed a two-way contract with an average annual value of $925,000 on Wednesday with the Penguins and will be attending the team’s NHL training camp this fall.
|Jayson Megna visits CONSOL Energy Center |
“I’m excited to be here. I’m blown away,” he said. “I was a late bloomer. I never really thought that this was possible. I always dreamed it. It’s an exciting time for me and my family.”
Coming off the heels of an impressive freshman season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha – where he was a member of the WCHA All-Rookie Team – Megna was invited to Penguins’ development camp in mid-July.
The Penguins were so impressed by Megna’s potential and work ethic at camp, they offered him a contract. And for Megna, it was an easy decision to sign.
“It sells itself, the city, the fans, the facility, the history of the organization. It’s very impressive,” he said. “It’s a place I thought I could really develop and grow as a player.”
Megna, who scored 31 points (13G-18A) with the Mavericks in 2011-12, had offers from several teams to attend their development camps this summer. But for Megna, the Penguins showed the most interest.
“It was nice to feel wanted. I think that’s important anywhere you go, especially with a decision like this,” he said. “The team has to want you. You have to feel comfortable with the people around you. They made me feel comfortable and wanted. So that was nice.”
And it didn’t hurt that Maverick teammate and roommate Josh Archibald was a Penguins prospect, a sixth-round selection (174th overall) by Pittsburgh in the 2011 NHL Draft.
“Josh is a great player and part of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization,” Megna said. “He had nothing but good things to say about this place.”
Megna was also UNO teammates with Jaycob Megna, his younger brother and Anaheim prospect (drafted in the Ducks in seventh round in 2012). The brothers played two seasons together in high school at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts. They were reunited in Omaha as teammates and roommates.
“It was great playing with my brother,” Jayson said. “We got to be roommates. We had an apartment of myself, my brother, Josh Archibald and James Polk. My parents would always come down and see us both play. That was a special experience for them too.
“To be able to play college with your brother is something not a lot of people get to do. We really enjoyed it. It was a really special experience.”
Megna, whose father played in the National Football League for Miami and New Orleans, will leave college behind and begin his professional career.
“A lot of people think it’s time to celebrate,” he said of signing his first pro contract. “For me it’s time to get the real work going. September is when camp is supposed to open up. I’m going to do everything in my power to get ready to the best of my ability for that.”
Attending his first training camp, Megna will have his first career opportunity to compete for an NHL roster spot – a step closer to a dream that seemed unlikely just a month ago.
“My plan is to stay here in Pittsburgh, hopefully make the team,” he said. “If not, I’ll spend some time in Wilkes-Barre, get to know the system and people and develop. I’m excited to develop and work with the coaches here. They’ll make me a much better player.”