Ducks 2022 Offseason Player Reviews: Sonny Milano

The Anaheim Ducks are officially in offseason mode. With the 2021-22 season in the rearview mirror, we can look back at some of the individual seasons that Ducks’ players had and how they fit moving forward.

Sonny Milano had a career year in an expanded role with the Ducks, logging a career-best 66 games after playing in just 69 in the previous three years combined. The former 16th overall pick also matched his career-high in goals (14) while setting a new high mark in assists (20) and points (34).

Related: Ducks 2022 Offseason Player Reviews: Trevor Zegras

Talent has never been the issue with the 26-year-old Milano, but a complete 200-foot game has been what’s made him a frequent healthy scratch to this point in his career. His efforts on defense weren’t enough for a disciplinarian like John Tortorella in Columbus, and he was sent to Anaheim in exchange for Devin Shore at the 2020 trade deadline. Milano’s troubles breaking into the lineup continued even into this season, when the Ducks placed him on waivers in early October. But when he hit the ice this season, the instant chemistry he showed with Trevor Zegras was enough to keep him in the lineup and into a prominent role in the lineup’s top-6 forwards.

Milano and Zegras Find Instant Chemistry

Milano started the season with 20 points in his first 22 games. By the end of December, he had already reached his career-high in points. Part of this uptick in scoring has to do with Trevor Zegras, who centered Milano for most of the season. This is less of an indictment on Milano and more of a slight to the Ducks’ recent center depth, but Zegras is the first center that can properly complement Milano’s fast style of play, and the results reflected that. 

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The native New Yorkers displayed their chemistry in an incredible way in Buffalo on Dec. 8. From behind the net, Zegras flipped the puck over the top of the goal and into the wheelhouse of Milano, who batted the puck in with a baseball-like swing. Replays of the goal went viral, with most of the attention on Zegras’ alley-oop pass, and deservedly so. But the goal isn’t scored without Milano’s impressive hand-eye coordination allowing him to connect on the aerial pass.

Milano’s Second Half Struggles as Ducks Faltered

Milano’s second half of the season follows a similar pattern to other Ducks’ players. His hot start came to a sudden halt by the end of February, and his production cratered. He registered only five points in his final 25 games, including an 11-game streak in March without a single point. The Ducks were a different team after the trade deadline. With much of the veteran core either traded or injured, they finished with only four wins in their final 24 contests.

Sonny Milano Anaheim Ducks
Sonny Milano, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Because of the circumstances, it’s difficult to cast judgment on a dip in production across the board. For example, Milano’s on-ice shooting percentage was only 4.76 percent over his final 20 games. An individual’s on-ice shooting percentage refers to the team’s shooting percentage while that player is on the ice, meaning Milano and the four Ducks players he shared the ice with at any point in that stretch were shooting less than 5 percent when the league average is about double that figure. It was a dismal end to the season with plenty of blame to go around.

Milano’s Future in Anaheim

Milano enters the offseason as a restricted free agent and should be a priority re-signing for the Ducks. Anaheim is flush with cap space, but Milano can be a cheap option on a team-friendly deal. With only one more year until his 27th birthday, his following contract will be as an unrestricted free agent, paving the way for a more lucrative deal. If he continues to build on his chemistry with Zegras while further developing his 200-foot game, he could be in Anaheim for the foreseeable future.

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