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When the Washington Capitals inked forward Sonny Milano to a one-year deal on October 16, it was unknown what the former first-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets would add to the team after a stint with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears.
Fast forward to today and Milano has begun to show why he finished last season with a career-high 34 Points (14 Goals, 20 Assists) in 66 Games Played with the Anaheim Ducks.
“Well, he’s a skilled player, he played in Anaheim last year, played in a top-six role”, said Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette in an appearance on 106.7 TheFan’s Sports Junkies radio program, “I think he had 35-40 points, somewhere in that area, he played on the power play, used in skill situations.”
Prior to joining the Caps at the NHL level, Milano played five games with the Bears, recording two goals and three points in five Games Played. In 12 Games Played since joining the Capitals, Milano has scored three goals and record seven points, including the game-tying goal late in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 23 (the team would win 3-2 in overtime).
“He’s not young, but he’s not an older player either, I think he’s mid-twenties”, remarked Laviolette, “And so he went to Hershey, he didn’t get a contract opportunity this summer, and he was sitting there and he went to Hershey and said that he would go there and try to work his way up.”
“[He] played well down there, and when we got hit with a few more injuries, it created space for him.”
The Capitals’ bench boss continued his glowing assessment of the 26-year old Massapequa, New York native, who has made the most of his playing time among the team’s top six forwards.
“He’s come up here, he’s done a really good job. He makes plays, he sees the ice, he’s a skilled player. Been playing recently with [Evgeny] Kuznetsov and [T.J.] Oshie and I think it’s been a pretty good line. Osh has played really well since his return, and Kuzy’s done a good job, but Sonny’s a piece of that too because he thinks the game like both of those players do.”
“He competes and he works, and he’s used to that scenario from being in Anaheim and playing up the lineup a little bit. He’s done a good job on the power play too, he’s down low on the power play on that second unit, he makes plays, so he’s come in here and done a really good job for us.”
In his 12 games in a Capitals sweater, Milano has averaged 13:24 (his career average is 13:16) of ice time a night for Laviolette and his coaching staff. Oshie, who had not played with Sonny prior to his return from injury, echoed that statement on Milano’s play following the team’s win over Philadelphia, noting, per NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich:
“It’s just fun hockey when you’ve got guys that are kind of thinking the same way you are. Obviously, I haven’t played with Sonny…but it seems like there’s chemistry there right away.”
To listen to Laviolette’s full conversation in his appearance, see HERE. The Capitals are next in action on Thursday against the Seattle Kraken as they continue their West Coast road swing.