Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Jayson Megna has played exceptionally well on the second-line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen in the absence of James Neal.
So well, that once Neal does eventually return, head coach Dan Bylsma is going to have to strongly consider keeping Megna in the top-six.
Although it’s assumed that Jokinen will play on the second-line, he hasn’t produced recently. In fact, over the last 15 games he’s collected just seven points (1G, 6A), and that’s while playing with Malkin for the most part. And because he’s familiar with center Brandon Sutter from their Carolina days, he might be best suited for a third-line role.
In the last six games, Megna has registered three points (2G, 1A) while skating to a plus-3 rating – with one of those goals being a game-winner. He crashes the net, persistently finds open-space, and has the perfect speed to play alongside Malkin. While Jokinen isn’t necessarily a flaw on the second-line, it might make the team better balanced if Megna takes his place.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Megna will stay with the club for the rest of the season, but considering forward Beau Bennett is out for an extended period of time he could vie for a permanent roster spot. With how effective he’s playing, I don’t see how the Pens’ move him down the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton again.
Megna has showed time and time again that he’s reliable. Understandably, Pittsburgh has a lot of options depth-wise that could reduce Megna’s game-action. However, he skates in every contest as if it’s his last, and produces no matter what line he’s assigned to. The flexibility as to where you slot him in the lineup is a very valuable piece to have.
If you combine Megna with Malkin and Neal, I think you’ll witness tremendous chemistry between the three. Malkin is the playmaker, Neal’s the sniper and Megna is the traffic catalyst in front of the net. Jokinen is comparable to Neal in that he’s more inclined to shoot-first, and his skills would be perfect for the third-line – considering the team has a hard time producing any secondary-scoring.
Megna will have plenty of time to continue to boast his chances of staying on the second-line, but as of right now, he’s shown he deserves to play there. If he doesn’t lock his spot in the top-six, he should at least remain on the roster for the season.