After scoring a career-high 14 goals and 34 points, Sonny Milano finally has a training camp to attend. The Calgary Flames will bring Milano in on a professional tryout. As with any PTO, this doesn’t mean Milano is actually on the Flames, only that he will be attending camp. It is, however, an opportunity for the team to get comfortable with the player and for the player to showcase himself to the entire league.
Milano, 26, was left unqualified by the Anaheim Ducks this offseason, thanks to a breakout campaign that likely would have led to a large arbitration award. The young forward would have needed a qualifying offer of $1.8MM and would have secured much more than that given his strong offensive totals from last year.
Playing nearly the entire season on the wing of playmaker extraordinaire Trevor Zegras (and a good chunk more with solid offensive players like Rickard Rakell and Troy Terry), Milano made the best of his opportunities. Still averaging just over 15 minutes a night, he nearly doubled his career points total, and potted 14 goals, a number he had hit as a rookie in 2017-18 but come nowhere near since.
There have always been questions about Milano’s overall impact on a game, his tendency to try highlight-reel plays instead of more traditional options, and a habit of drifting to the perimeter, but there is no doubt that he has the skill to play at a high level. The fact that he hasn’t found a contract yet likely has more to do with him searching for a good fit than the phone not ringing.
Whether he can find that fit in Calgary is unclear. For a player that will need powerplay time and minutes with top-end players to be effective, the Flames roster looks awfully crowded. Even with the losses of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary can ice a top-six that includes Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau, Andrew Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, and Tyler Toffoli. Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund, and Dillon Dube are all capable of moving into those roles as well, while the veterans like Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis patrol the bottom six.
So while Milano may be deserving of an NHL contract, it will be interesting to see whether it ends up being the Flames that sign him. For now, he’ll attend training camp with the team, and get a chance to remind them of the skill that scored two goals in three games against Calgary last season.