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Prospect Update: Jaycob Megna
By Thomas Harrington
Jaycob Megna is very much a veteran when it comes to Anaheim’s prospects. He just completed his fourth professional season of hockey. Most of that has been spent in the AHL, though he did play a career-high 14 NHL games this past season. This will be Megna’s final season of rookie eligibility. Once he turns 26, he’ll no longer be considered a rookie by the NHL.
Megna has been one of the more reliable defensemen in San Diego for the past couple of seasons. After making his NHL debut in the 2016-2017 season, and setting a career high in the AHL with 27 points, Megna entered this past season with high expectations. Megna actually started the season in the NHL, after having a great training camp. The fact he made the roster over Jacob Larsson and others was a surprise, but he definitely earned it based on the previous season and the preseason. He played eight games in October, recorded his first career assist against Montreal, and was a career-high +3 that night, while also playing over 22 minutes, easily the most in his young NHL career. In every other game last year, he played anywhere from 12 to 18 minutes a night. Early last season, the Ducks were going through a rash of injuries, with both Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen missing significant time. It was one of the primary reasons why Megna was given so much playing time early in the season. After a strong October, Megna played three more NHL games in both November and December and played only in San Diego in the second half of the season. Anaheim was much healthier at that time. Also, both Marcus Pettersson and Andy Welinski were given chances with the Ducks instead.
With the Gulls, Megna made his season debut in late November and was his usual, reliable presence in their lineup. Overall, he played in 49 games for San Diego and scored two goals and 12 points. Late in the season, he often found himself on the top pairing with Larsson as the Gulls battled for their playoff lives. More offense from Megna might have gotten San Diego into the playoffs, but given that he’s more of a stay at home, physical defender, the Gulls’ lack of scoring certainly can’t be laid at his feet.
A year ago, I had two sets of expectations for Megna. First, when he was with the Gulls, to continue to be one of their better defensemen and put up solid minutes. Second, to get some games with the Ducks and show that he can play against NHL competition. Well, he did both things. While Megna will likely at best be a sixth or seventh defenseman, he’s shown that’s a role he can fill admirably well.
This coming season, Megna will likely spend most of the season in the AHL again. However, I do think he’ll get more time with the Ducks at some point this season. A year from now, I think he could have a very good chance to land a more permanent position in the NHL, provided of course that he continues to develop this coming season. Assuming he does that, and assuming that the Ducks let Korbinian Holzer, Andrej Sustr, and Luke Schenn go in a year’s time, he’ll have a very good chance to be Anaheim’s seventh defenseman for the 2019-2020 season.
Megna currently has one year left on his contract, and he will be a restricted free agent next summer. Assuming the Ducks do want him to be the team’s future sixth or seventh defenseman, I believe that he’ll be re-signed. He may even have a shot at a one-way contract if he can play well enough this coming season. However, if the Ducks instead believe that his future is as an AHL defenseman, they could decide to not qualify him and try to sign him to an AHL-only deal.
The next prospect update will be on Steven Ruggiero.
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August 17th, 2018