Jayson Megna’s hard work over the summer and through three months in Hartford will pay off tonight when he makes his Rangers debut against the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden.
The 25-year-old will take the spot of forward Chris Kreider, who will miss tonight’s contest with a hand injury.
“This is what I’ve been working for in the summer and then trying to keep rounding out my game in Hartford to be able to get another opportunity to play in the National Hockey League,” Megna told reporters after the team’s morning skate. “It’s very exciting for me. I’ll be looking to do the best I can with it.”
Megna has skated in 34 games in Hartford this season, registering seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. He leads the Wolf Pack in shots on goal with 110, while his 18 points are second on the team. He said he’s skated mostly at center, predominantly with Marek Hrivik, Brian Gibbons and Adam Tambellini.
Megna, who signed with the Rangers on July 1, has 48 games of NHL experience to his name over two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In those games, the forward has five goals and five assists for 10 points with 20 penalty minutes.
“I have been playing well,” the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-native said. “There’s certain areas of my game that can always be better, but I’m happy with the way I’ve been playing. I’ve been getting a lot of scoring chances down there. Pucks haven’t necessarily been going in or bouncing my way, but hopefully I’ve been saving them for tonight.”
Alain Vigneault said he was unsure where Megna would play tonight, but did allude to the possibility of Megna taking Kreider’s spot on the power play. The head coach said he’s gotten good reports from Hartford on Megna.
“Very consistent at both ends of the rink. Very competitive,” Vigneault said of Megna. “We feel that it would be a good time to see what he can do at this level.”
Vigneault said Megna had a strong training camp, and that it came down to a “numbers game” that prevented Megna from making the team in October.
“I thought it was a real strong camp,” Vigneault said. “He scored a couple goals. We were using him on the power play … He did play real well and we knew at some point we were going to take a look at him. Maybe we should have done it a little bit earlier, but it’s never too late.”