By Thomas Harrington
Jaycob Megna just completed his third year of professional hockey and made his NHL debut back in April.
Megna’s third season in the AHL saw him take a big step up in terms of his offensive production and overall play. At 6’6”, he’s one of the taller players in the Ducks’ system, and he’s much more known for his physical play than his offensive production. However, after failing to score a goal in 67 games in the 2015-2016 season, Megna scored five goals and 27 points in 62 games this past season. He finished seventh in scoring for the Gulls. More importantly than his offensive contributions was his steady defensive play. Megna is the very definition of a stay at home defensemen, and he saw a decent amount of time next to Shea Theodore last season. When Theodore jumped up and joined the rush, Megna would stay back and cover for him. As a result of his defensive play, Megna finished the season with a +33 rating, which led the entire AHL. He played in all 10 of San Diego’s playoff games and recorded four assists.
Megna was rewarded for his solid season in San Diego when he was called up to the Ducks and made his NHL debut against Chicago on April 6th. The Ducks were without Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Korbinian Holzer for this game. With so many out, the Ducks turned to the Gulls for reinforcements. Theodore and Brandon Montour were the obvious choices, but with another open spot in the lineup, the decision was made to bring up Megna for his first NHL action. He didn’t look too out of place and had a solid NHL debut. Megna didn’t record any points, but he played over 15 minutes, with almost a minute of that coming on the penalty kill unit, and had a +1 rating. While the Blackhawks were without some of their top stars, they still boasted some impressive firepower and Megna didn’t make any glaring mistakes.
A year ago, I said that I wanted to see Megna become one of San Diego’s steady defensemen, especially with the potential roster turmoil that is so common in the AHL. Well, that’s exactly what he did. With Theodore and Montour both switching back and forth between the Ducks and Gulls, Megna was one of the steadier players on San Diego’s backend. I also said that it would be nice if he chipped in with a couple of goals, and his five goals far exceeded my expectations for him. Him making his NHL debut was much more than I expected and showed how much the organization trusts him.
Megna is a hard player to set expectations for this coming season. If he spends most or all of it with the Gulls, then I want him to continue to do exactly what he did last season: be a steady defensive presence, chip in with the occasional goal, and help hold the defense together as players go up and down between the NHL and AHL. However, I do think he has an outside chance at being on Anaheim’s roster for much of this season. Similar to Joseph Cramarossa a year ago, Megna is the type of player who could be right on the cusp of making it to the NHL. If he has a strong camp, he could be the sixth or seventh defensemen on Anaheim’s roster. With Lindholm and Sami Vatanen potentially missing the beginning of the season, there is an opportunity for some of San Diego’s players to get in some NHL games at the start of the season. If Megna can be one of those players, and impress enough during his time with the Ducks, he could stick around for the rest of the season. Even if Megna doesn’t get a ton of games in the NHL this year, he’s going to need to get some games with the Ducks this coming season if he wants to still be considered part of the team’s future. While he probably won’t ever be more than a fifth or sixth defenseman, he could still be a very useful player on the bottom pairing and penalty kill.
Megna was going to be a restricted free agent this summer, but he re-signed with the Ducks for two years before July rolled around. When his new contract expires, he’ll be a restricted free agent again. If he’s progressed and seen more time in the NHL, then I think that it’s likely the Ducks re-sign him for another short deal. However, if he stays primarily in the AHL for the next couple of seasons, I think that it’s more likely the Ducks choose to not qualify him and let him become a free agent. However, they could then try and sign him to an AHL only deal to keep him in San Diego, being a veteran presence on the Gulls’ blueline.
My next prospect update will be on Alex Dostie.
Want to start your sports media career? Then Join The Puck Network!
DucksNPucks is part of The Puck Network, which covers the entire NHL. There are openings to cover your favorite team(s) and earn school credits! If you are interested, then apply by filling out the form here: Join Our Team. What are you waiting for? Start your sports media career TODAY!
August 13th, 2017