The Calgary Flames have signed yet another player to a professional tryout offer (PTO), as they announced on Monday morning that Sonny Milano will be joining them for training camp. He will join Cody Eakin and Michael Stone as players on PTO in camp, as both were signed last week by general manager Brad Treliving.
Many were surprised when Milano, 26, didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Anaheim Ducks to begin the offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. Even more surprising was that he remained on the open market until this point, as most figured he would be in line for a multi-year deal after registering a solid 34 points in 66 games this past season.
One reason for the little interest he received from teams reportedly has to do with his history of concussions, something that has plagued him throughout his professional career. Nevertheless, he is a very talented individual and has a great opportunity to earn a deal with the Flames if he has himself a solid training camp. With that said, here is everything you need to know about the American winger.
Former Teammates with Noah Hanifin
While he will be entering a new locker room, Milano will have at least one familiar face he can count on to welcome him to the group. During the 2013-14 season as a member of the U.S. National U18 Team, he played alongside Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin.
Back then, Milano was a true star, proven by his 86 points in 58 games, a total that was second on the team and trailed leader Jack Eichel by just one. Hanifin was no slouch either, having put up 13 points in 14 games from the backend that season.
2014 First-Round Draft Choice
Right after the season in which he played with Hanifin, Milano entered the 2014 NHL Entry Draft as one of the top forward prospects available. He went on to be selected 16th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets and was viewed as one of the most highly-skilled players in his entire draft class, something his stats in not only his draft year but prior seasons certainly backed up.
The reason that Milano slid a little bit in the draft, however, was due to the rest of his game not being particularly well-rounded. That still remains a flaw today, as he has struggled to fully establish himself in the NHL despite having an abundance of talent. That said, he is still relatively young and could soon put it all together.
Originally Committed to Play at Boston College
After his time in the U.S. National Development Program, Milano went on to play a single season with the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) before turning pro. However, that was not always the plan. As it turns out, he had originally planned to go the college route like so many from that program do, but changed his mind last second.
Milano was set to suit up for Boston College in 2014-15 but started feeling more and more unsure about the decision as it neared. By the time August rolled around, he informed B.C. that he would instead be heading to the OHL. The decision couldn’t have been an easy one, but looking back appears to have been the right call as he is approaching 200 games played in his NHL career.
Beneficiary of the Zegras Assist
Last season, Milano formed one of the more exciting duos alongside rookie phenom Trevor Zegras. The two both have a very high skill level, and playing on a rebuilding Ducks team wasn’t afraid to try some risky but unique plays. One of those, in particular, caught the sporting world’s attention and will have a place in hockey history forever.
As everyone remembers, Zegras had one of the most creative assists in NHL history when, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, he flicked the puck over the net to his teammate, who then batted the puck out of midair for the highlight reel tally. The teammate on the receiving end of that pass was Milano, who, despite being the goal scorer, was far less recognized as it was the assist that caught the eye of everyone. Nonetheless, it was a pivotal moment in the game that he can always say he played a part in.
Legitimate Shot at Earning a Contract
It has been known for over a month now that Treliving was hoping to add one more forward to his group ahead of the 2022-23 season. While Eakin is also at camp on a PTO, he doesn’t have anywhere near the offensive talent of Milano, which is something the Flames could use even more of. There are no guarantees, of course, but at this time he seems to have a very solid shot of earning himself a deal.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.