In only his second ever NHL game, rookie forward Jayson Megna of the Pittsburgh Penguins left a lasting impression on the Pens’ faithful, scoring his first two points of his career, a goal and an assist.
That wasn’t the most impressive thing about his game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The speed and tenacity that Megna displayed each and every shift showed there wasn’t a second of his 10:58 played that he did not skate his hardest, also getting credit for four shots, a hit and a blocked shot.
With the injuries continuing to pile up with the forwards, Megna’s role seems likely to increase. Chuck Kobasew left last night’s game with an injury and did not return. He did not participate in today’s practice and has been ruled out for three to four weeks.
With Kobasew out and with Matt D’Agostini struggling to adjust in the lineup, Megna could be in line to play on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen, something he did briefly in last night’s game.
Can Megna succeed playing in a top six role so soon in his career? Was last night just lightning in the bottle, or have the Penguins discovered a diamond in the rough? Obviously the hustle was something that is an encouraging sign for a rookie, but what rookie isn’t amped to prove himself in the NHL, especially an undrafted one?
What will determine his true value is how he responds when that initial burst of adrenaline wears off. Does he still get to pucks he used to? Does he still win the stick and position battles he did before? What could separate Megna from others is his speed. Watch the game over; that wasn’t just hustle, that was speed — legit NHL speed.
It’s too soon in his career to tell for sure and even though he will be one of the odd men out when the Penguins start to return to health, he has certainly planted a flag in the back of general manager Ray Shero and head coach Dan Byslma’s collective head as a go-to guy in case injuries should force their hand at another call up.
For now, though, the opportunity has presented Megna with the chance to play with some of the best players in the world, and he will always get to say that Sidney Crosby assisted on his first ever goal.
Anthony Murphy is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter, @AMurphyTFC.