The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that they have signed 22-year-old forward prospect Jayson Megna to a 2-year, 2-way entry-level deal.
Megna left the University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA) after just one season, where he compiled 31 points (13+18) in 38 games. As a freshman, he was named to the WHCA All-Rookie Team.
We talked with Matthew Semisch of Radio Free Omaha, where he watched and covered Megna and his former team extensively the past season. Here’s what he had to say:
Hi Eric-Megna had a very promising season for Nebraska Omaha last year and finished very strong in his final year in the USHL, having averaged a goal every other game (30-28-58 in 60 GP) with Cedar Rapids. Far and away UNO’s most promising freshman forward last season; I had expected Josh Archibald to be the one to watch, but he faltered whereas Megna was more consistent throughout the season.
I like him as an all-around forward. He knows where the net is, but he’s also very good at setting up his linemates. He could stand to develop as a two-way player, and hopefully that’s what will happen when he goes to (I’m guessing) WBS. It’ll be interesting to see if and how often he gets used on the power play. I think it’d be unfair to judge his special teams play on last season, given that UNO’s PP was the worst in the WCHA in 2011-12.
In the offensive zone, he reminds me a lot of David Backes. Backes is becoming more and more well-known for his play in the defensive zone, as well, though, and the hope is that – although Megna was a very respectable +13 last season, that number goes up even more on a team that’s more consistent all over the ice.
He has a shot at making it to the show at some stage, but I don’t see it happening right away. A lot of UNO fans I’ve talked to were shocked by Megna’s decision to move on so quickly, and some have wondered aloud whether it was him signing a deal now so as to try and beat a possible upcoming lockout.
Either way, Megna’s departure is a big loss for UNO. The Mavericks lost Terry Broadhurst to Chicago a few months ago, and with those two gone, a lot of people are going to be asking where the Mavericks’ goals will come from next season.
Hope that helps.
Megna is slated to begin his pro career this upcoming season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), and due to the large number of forwards in the system could even spend some time with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.
Finally, pending the almost definite re-signings of RFA’s Eric Tangradi, Robert Bortuzzo, and Alex Grant, this will put the Penguins at the 50 contract limit mark for the time being.
A big thanks to Matthew for some good insight on the newest Penguin.