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Photo Credit: Russell LaBounty - USA TODAY Sports

Nobody Benefits from Jayson Megna’s Exorbitant Ice Time

If you have a glass of wine daily after work, most studies tend to suggest that’s good for your short and long-term health. Drink the whole bottle, though, and you’ve got a serious problem. It’s a matter of moderation — discipline, even.

One could draw a striking parallel between the findings in those studies and the Canucks’ usage of Jayson Megna. Canucks general manager Jim Benning signed Megna early in the off-season to be a lead horse in Utica and a depth call-up option. Vancouver called up Megna in late October, and they’ve gone back to the bottle again and again and again and…

Had Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins read Megna User’s Manual, this wouldn’t be an issue. Megna would get his games, and limited ice-time, as injuries made that a necessity, and in all likelihood he would have a more or less negligible impact on the Canucks chances of winning.

Instead, we’re over 50 games into the Megna Experiment, and rather than seeing his role diminish as the Canucks publicly state their desire for an infusion of youth down the stretch, we’re witness to the exact opposite more often than not.

Last night, for example, Desjardins played Reid Boucher a hair under eight and a half minutes at even strength. Conversely, Megna, 27-years-old, played well over thirteen minutes. For added context, Henrik Sedin didn’t crest the thirteen mark. That’s a continuation of an ugly trend.

And for all the ice-time the Canucks have invested in Megna, he’s yielded four goals in return. In his last 41 games, Megna has but one goal to his credit. In that time, he’s played on each of the Canucks four forward lines and even skated on the first unit power play. The Canucks control a 44.79% score and venue adjusted ratio of shot attempts — the second lowest mark among Canucks skaters with ten or more games to their credit.

If you were to look at the 360 forwards to play 400-plus minutes at even strength this season (twelve forwards on each team gets you this number) Megna’s 0.61 points per hour ranks 350th.

You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

In fairness to Megna, it’s not as though he’s in Desjardins office daily pleading for more ice-time and in higher leverage situations. I didn’t see Megna whispering to Desjardins following the Edmonton Oilers second goal last night, but he was on the ice the very next shift alongside the Sedin twins all the same.

Megna is every bit a victim here as the Canucks fans made to suffer his exorbitant ice time. One could make a fairly compelling argument for Megna’s role having detrimental effects on his career at this stage.

Before joining the Canucks, Megna produced even strength points at a rate of 1.32 points per hour; as a Canuck, that number is 0.61. With Pittsburgh and New York, Megna’s teams controlled 46.13% of venue and score adjusted shot attempts at even strength; as a Canuck, that number is 44.79%.

Certain players benefit from playing in an expanded role. In fact, there are a few players on the Canucks or in their system that have shown in brief glimpses that we might be able to one day count them among those beneficiaries.

Everyone, save Desjardins, knew by game twenty, or thirty, or forty of the Megna experiment that he wasn’t one such player.

Megna is 27-years-old. The cold reality here is that he’s likely left his peak years already, and doesn’t have any dormant talent in need of ice-time as a catalyst to set it loose. I don’t mean to be obtuse, but Megna is what he is at this stage, and that’s not likely to change. He is a thirteenth forward.

Let’s imagine for argument’s sake that the Megna experiment was yielding even acceptable fourth line results — it’s not, but let’s entertain the notion. The Canucks as an organization have nothing to gain by entertaining that experiment in the final eleven games of the season. Nothing.

By playing Megna, though, they limit themselves and their ability to plug into yet untapped potential elsewhere. It’s not just about Boucher. There’s Alexandre Grenier or Joseph LaBate to consider. And Nikolay Goldobin when he returns to the lineup needs to play in a top-six role. If they don’t want to get too radical, they can just allot the surplus ice-time to Bo Horvat’s line — what a notion!

Whatever they choose to do with the excess minutes Megna plays night after futile night, it can’t be less endearing to fans than the current plan. That almost seems impossible, though I don’t want to sound like I’m issuing a challenge.

It’s about selling hope, and a 27-year-old thirteenth forward can’t be the one at the register. Especially when that takes shifts out of the hand of players better suited to that role. It isn’t fair to anyone.

  • pheenster

    Good read JD. This is true no matter what your take is on the direction this team is heading. Willie seems intent on doing the same thing repeatedly and expects a different result. He simply has to go, and the sooner the better.

  • Roy

    Megna is the safe, conservative choice to give solid, boring minutes for a coach who probably doesn’t mind going back to the AHL. On an unrelated note, I dreamed the Canucks played a game and won 6-3 and Baertschi scored 5 goals.

  • wojohowitz

    I suspect that Willie sympathizes with Megna. They are both career AHLers and this is their moment in the sun. Unfortunately it also says something about the mediocrity of Willie as he coaches to not lose. Contrast that with Torts who preached aggression.

  • Bud Poile

    Competitive,blocks shots and throws multiple hits each and every game.
    On a team that relies on their goaltender to win each night a coach needs consistent effort and truculence.
    Very few forwards provide that on this club.Megna does.
    The Grenier/LaBate arguement rings hollow.

    • TheRealPB

      Please tell me you’re kidding. Megna has 83 hits this season. He’s I think fifth on the Canucks. Matt Martin (who I can’t stand) has 200 plus hits. I think this article is fair to Megna who is a decent and hard-working AHLer. But let’s be serious about what he can actually bring to the table. This article is absolutely right, there is zero upside to playing a guy like that for a 27th place team. If he was stuck on the fourth line maybe. But not when he’s taking the spot of talented players on the PP or on the wing of a supposed scoring line.

    • Jayson Megna: 1.22 shots/game; 1.6 hits/game; 0.3 blocks/game; 12:26 TOI
      Reid Boucher: 2.0 shots/game; 0.25 hits/game; 0.2 blocks/game; 10:54 TOI
      So, one plays 1:40 mins/game less, generates 2x more shots, blocks same amount of shots. Less amount of hits leads us to another interesting stats: JM – 0.31 takeaways/game, RB – 0.44 takeaways/game. Both are carrying 0.2 giveaways/game, so we may come to a conclusion, RB’s stick work is more effective than his checking and he relies on his positioning and stick work more. On the other side, JM positioning is not one of his strengths while defending so he does body-checks to try save his butt.

  • GoodUserName

    Im no professional hockey expert, but heres how I see it. I think most coaches have those 1-2 players who work really hard but dont have the skillset to be true nhl ers, so I think if I was a coach of a young team I would try to show these young multi millionaires that effort is what matters, and defensive responsibility wins games. Obviously megna is way over played, but maybe thats the message Willie is trying to convey. Or megna has real good blackmail pictures of Willie.

    • Except it doesn’t win games. It would be one thing if Willie were grinding out results, but he’s not – he’s actively making the team worse. From a tank perspective, that’s fine, except that it’s totally wasting the developmental minutes you could be doling out in meaningless games.

  • GLM

    For the record Megna’s avg ice time this season (since it’s not listed in this article) is just 12:26. Maybe 1 or 2 mins more than I’d like, but not “exorbitant” imo.

    Much more alarming was seeing that Henrik Sedin who’s soon to be 37 year old , is the highest averaging forward at 19+ mins a game. No wonder him and Daniel are burning out at the end of the season…

  • Dirty30

    WD really has some blind spot for the flailing plodders who work hard but really don’t add much to the team success. Vey, Dorset and Megna were/are all his ‘go-to’ guys and it doesn’t make a lot of sense at this level of play to send out an ineffective but hard-working player above some high-risk high-reward player.

    On top of which, WD has made some rather questionable comments about some of his players that aren’t fair nor necessarily accurate. If WD really believes Megna is the guy who will change games it’s long overdue to fire him.

  • Rodeobill

    He’s probably really good at doing whatever WD says to do each shift, and is reliable in that sense. WD just hasn’t told him to score or have positive stats yet. I like Gaunce as a better option for a player who performs well each shift with no production , but megna has wheels and is probably OK on the fourth, or like you said the thirteenth forward.

  • myshkin

    I think the 600K cap hit on Megna is money better spent than the 6 million cap hit on Eriksson whom you recently endorsed. Willie has the players working hard by rewarding the hard workers. But of course JD has a better understanding of what goes on in the room than Willie.

  • TD

    Chaput was a good scorer in junior so I like the attempt with the Sedins and would be okay trying that again. Megna has been tried on every line and has proven he can’t score so he should be stapled to the fourth line or press box.

    It’s time to try three scoring lines with equal play so we can see what Gaunce and Boucher can do in offensive situations as well. I agree that it’s time to split up the Sedins even if for just a few games. I want the Sedins to be the third line next year or parts of the second and third. They need to play less minutes so they stay fresher for the whole season.

  • LTFan

    If there was ever an “arm chair” coach – you are it JD. Your specialty seems to be to run down players who work their asses off for this team. The Coach should do this or that. Try and walk in his shoes and it would be a disaster. The reality is there are too few guys who can put the puck in the net on a regular basis. If you think Grenier or Labate would be better then they would have been here long ago. Yes I would like to see what Goldobin can do and hopefully will when he is healthy enough to play again. WD may have some faults as a coach but IMO the team is playing hard every night. Remember the Coach can only deal with the players that he has at his disposal and I think he has done a fairly good job.

  • Ronning4ever

    Any chance that WD like Megna because he’s there best player at drawing penalties? And one of their best at staying out of the box? If the PP was any good, Megna might be worth his minutes….