For the most part, Joe Vitale was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ fourth-line center, and because he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, the chances he returns is questionable.
Of course, Marcel Goc took over fourth-line center duties when Vitale was injured and moved to wing, but regardless, neither are anticipated to be back. Especially since the Pens’ new general manager will probably look to brand a new identity with the club.
As far as who will be the Pens’ fourth-line centerman for next season, they could look within the organization and use Jayson Megna.
Megna, 24, is listed as a center, but was inaugurated into the NHL as a winger. At one point, Megna skated alongside Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the top-line, and on another occasion with Evgeni Malkin on the second. However, because he now has some NHL games under his belt, Megna could uphold a center’s responsibilities for the 2014-15 campaign.
A speedy hockey player, Megna is a player Pittsburgh needs to start developing in the NHL. His youth accompanied with drive to succeed really became apparent last season, and there’s no reason to doubt he wouldn’t provide that same jolt next season. Megna played 36 games during the regular-season, but with a full year from start-to-finish, we could see him excel.
I saw a lot of promise in Megna this past season, and with time, we could witness him take his game to the next level. Having two games of playoff experience is great as well. A guy who wasn’t even thought of being apart of the team, Megna found a way to get his name in the lineup with diligent play, and patience.
But what I really applaud Megna for the way he crashes the net.
One issue Pittsburgh had was getting bodies in front of the goaltender, and Megna does an exceptional job of doing just that. That, and he simply knows how to barrel his frame into the goal-crease. You want your fourth-line to be a force on the forecheck as well, to which Megna executes regularly. Perhaps, Megna just needs to get bigger.
If Megna builds up his stamina, he could blossom into a very valuable secondary scorer for Pittsburgh. Something the Pens lacked this past season. But I feel it’s just time to give Megna the full-time gig.
Personally, to me, another season down in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will only hinder his growth.