Prospect Update: Jaycob Megna

Photo by Chris Stone

Photo by Chris Stone

By Thomas Harrington

Jaycob Megna completed his second full pro season this past year. Despite not scoring a goal through the regular season, he still managed to set career highs in all other major offensive categories, pretty good for a player more known for his shut down style of play.

After appearing in 32 games as a rookie in the AHL with Norfolk, Megna appeared in 67 of San Diego’s 68 games last season. He didn’t score a single goal in those 67 games, but he did register a career-high 12 assists and 12 points, while also finishing a career-high +23. Plus/minus is arguably one of the most flawed stats tracked in hockey; however, for a player whose primary job is to shut down the opposition, finishing with such a high plus rating is a good sign, despite the stat’s flaws. Early in the season, Megna wasn’t putting up many points, as he only had three assists through December. As the season continued, Megna’s offensive numbers saw a rise, and that culminated with the first two point game of his AHL career in the final game of the regular season. In the playoffs, Megna appeared in all nine games and scored his first and the only goal of the season, while continuing to provide solid defensive play for the Gulls. It took a while, but Megna fully adjusted to the AHL in his second season in the league.

A year ago, I said that I just wanted to see Megna play a ton of hockey since he missed half of his rookie season with an injury. Since Megna only missed one game between the regular season and playoffs, it’s safe to say that he lived up to expectations. Given the amount of defensive depth the Gulls had last year, it makes the number of games Megna appeared in even more impressive. Bob Murray loves to have a ton of NHL ready defensemen in both the NHL and AHL. Last season, the Gulls had Brandon Montour, Shea Theodore, Shane O’Brien, Andrew O’Brien, Stu Bickel, and Joe Piskula all play at least 40 games on defense, but only Montour played more than Megna’s 67 games.

This coming season, I want to see Megna continue to be one of the most consistent presences on San Diego’s blueline. With Theodore likely NHL-bound, and Montour possibly not far behind, having a player like Megna appear consistently throughout the season would be a huge boon for the Gulls’ defense. His presence should help stabilize what could be a rotating cast of players through San Diego’s backend. Also, it would be nice if he could score a couple of goals in the regular season, but it’s not a huge deal if he goes another season with no goals.

Megna is a giant of a man, standing at 6’5”. If he can learn to truly use his size effectively, he could turn into a top four defenseman in the future. However, he’s more likely ticketed as a bottom pairing defenseman who will see a decent amount of time on a team’s penalty kill unit. He won’t ever score a ton of points, but could provide solid depth. The Ducks are loaded with puck moving defensemen on their roster and in their prospect system, but they don’t have a ton of big, physical players ready to step up. Megna is arguably the most NHL-ready of those types of prospects that Anaheim has, so it’s possible he could make his NHL debut this season. However, with how much depth the team has on defense, he’ll need to have a great year in San Diego to crack Anaheim’s lineup this season. If the Ducks move out Clayton Stoner and/or Kevin Bieksa, I think his odds of making his NHL debut go up a fair amount.

Megna is in the final year of his entry-level contract. As long as he continues to be one of San Diego’s top defensemen, I think he’ll be re-signed in a year’s time. He’s solid defensively and could end up being one of the leaders on San Diego’s this season.

My next prospect update will be on Matt Berkovitz.

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