It’s been relatively slow in Anaheim since the Ducks extended Troy Terry more than two weeks ago. Luckily, things have picked up with a new contract, an award for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, and an update on some important renovations to the Honda Center.
Sonny Milano Signs an Extension
As Elliot Friedman reported Tuesday, the Ducks signed restricted free agent forward Sonny Milano to an extension.
The contract is for the next two seasons at an average annual value of $1.7 million. After that, Milano will still be a restricted free agent (RFA). The Ducks traded for Milano from the Columbus Blue Jackets on deadline day in exchange for Devin Shore.
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The young forward made a positive impression in nine games with the Ducks, scoring two goals and adding three assists, before COVID-19 ended the Ducks’ season early. Milano’s two goals came in his Ducks debut against the Edmonton Oilers. His first was a beautiful one-handed play; his second won the game in overtime.
With Milano signed, the Ducks’ lone unsigned RFA is Jacob Larsson, while Ryan Miller, Michael Del Zotto and Matt Irwin are unrestricted free agents. All three are questionable to return to Anaheim with Miller reportedly contemplating retirement and Del Zotto and Irwin competing for already-limited defensive spots if they re-sign.
Ducks New Locker Room to Be Finished by Next Season
There were reports as early as last season that Ducks ownership had committed to renovating the team’s locker room. According to Eric Stephens of The Athletic, the renovation will likely be completed by the start of next season (from ‘Ducks mailbag, Part 2: Is it worth it to trade up in the draft?’ The Athletic, 7/16/2020).
While it’s not the most earth-shattering news, a new, more comfortable locker room can’t hurt the team’s productivity when they do play again.
Gulls Win Outstanding Fan Experience Award From AHL
Thursday, the San Diego Gulls announced that the AHL awarded them “Outstanding Fan Experience for the AHL’s Western Conference.” The recognition stems from the Gulls’ many theme nights and promotions, including “Lucha Libre Wrestling Night” and “80s Night.”
According to the AHL, the Gulls hosted more than 212,000 fans during the 2019-20 season that ended prematurely due to the COVID-19. San Diego has led the Western Conference in attendance since 2015, averaging 8,732 fans per game.
Gulls fans are sure to have an even more enjoyable experience whenever they are allowed to watch the Gulls play in person again. The way things are going, the team is slated to receive an influx of talented young players. The 2019 9th overall pick, Trevor Zegras, signed his entry-level deal at the end of March and is ready to start his professional career.
The Bedford, New York native finished his only season at Boston University with 11 goals and 25 assists. Though it depends on how he performs out of training camp, Zegras should spend significant time in San Diego next year, which will be a treat for fans.
According to Ducks assistant general manager Martin Madden, goaltending prospect Lukas Dostal will also be in San Diego this season. Dostal has had a hugely successful amateur and early professional career in Europe and will face his first test in the AHL.
With the next generation of young, talented Ducks starting to break into the professional ranks, the Gulls and their fans have a lot to look forward to, as do Ducks fans.
All stats from hockey-reference.com
Anthony Ciardelli grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire but now lives in Los Angeles. Though he was raised a Bruins fan, he quickly came to enjoy the hockey culture in Southern California and the rivalry between the Kings and Ducks. He covered USC Athletics while pursuing his journalism masters there. He also enjoys doing play-by-play for USC Trojan Hockey.