Sonny Milano has a claim to fame as the recipient of the most dazzling pass in NHL history. But the newest addition to Calgary Flames camp may become an elite passer himself.
The winger batted home the legendary ‘Dishigan’ goal last season, courtesy of Trevor Zegras’ lacrosse-style pass from behind the net. The Anaheim Ducks duo dominated the highlight reels for weeks as a result.
Yet the 26-year-old wasn’t qualified by the Ducks as a restricted free agent. There has been speculation about concerns over the concussion that delayed his training last summer. Worry over salary arbitration costs after a breakout season also played a role in the decision.
The lefty netted 14 goals and had 34 points in 60 games with the Ducks last year.
What he offers the Flames is experience and upside in the competition for top-nine roles on the wing. If he’s able to translate the PTO into a new contract, he would join Jonathan Huberdeau, Andrew Mangiapane, Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman, Dillon Dube, Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis on the flanks. Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr are among the top prospects contending for one of those spots this season. Cody Eakin was also brought in on a PTO.
Underlying numbers from last season suggest that while he’s not a strong finisher, his setup skills are strong. He has shown promise in creating scoring chances, puck possession and zone entries but tends to get trapped in his own zone at times.
Some of that can be attached to the style of the team he played for but it’s a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for the Calgary Flames. He’ll have a chance to show his health and effectiveness. The team can evaluate his willingness to commit to the kind of checking necessary under head coach Darryl Sutter.
That commitment from former Calgary Flames star Johnny Gaudreau translated into a massive career season last year. Milano isn’t at that level, but if he’s open to working extremely hard in every area of the ice, he could thrive on a team with an extremely deep group of centremen to play with.
Drafted 16th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2014, Milano has 197 games of NHL experience. He’s scored 36 goals and has 81 points in that span.
Milano was a key piece of the Lake Erie Monsters championship run in 2016. He scored four goals and eight points in 17 playoff games en route to the Calder Cup. As a rookie in the AHL, he also had 14 goals and 31 points in the regular season after a small AHL sampling with the Springfeld Falcons the previous year after graduating from a stellar single season in the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers.
He was an extra forward in the 2018 IIHF World Championship with Blake Coleman as a teammate on the bronze-medal squad.
The Calgary Flames have the salary cap room to sign him if he impresses in camp. Milano made $1.7 million with the Ducks last season.