We have hit a small revival in NHL signings these past few days. With many restricted free agents getting signed, teams are getting a better idea of their cap space situation heading into 2022-23. As a result, names on the free agency board are slowly but surely coming off the board, with both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci signing on Monday.
Still, a few names sit out in free agency. Some, such as Phil Kessel, PK Subban, and even Nazem Kadri, all have their excuses as to why they have taken so long to sign. For Kessel and Subban, it is likely due to a lack of interest. For Kadri, it’s likely Lou Lamoriello.
But one name that baffles me as to how he is still available is Sonny Milano, who we will be making a case for the Vegas Golden Knights today.
Milano is a 26-year-old American left-winger and former-first-round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2014. After playing just six games in 2020-21, he had a career resurgence with the Anaheim Ducks in 2021-22 and scored 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points alongside Trevor Zegras.
I’m not going to repeat myself yet again on how the Golden Knights are suddenly lacking top-six wingers. The trading of Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov leaves them with just Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and a banged-up Mark Stone as reliable scoring wingers. The depth chart then drastically drops to William Carrier, Keegan Kolesar, and Michael Amadio.
Adding Milano would obviously give the Golden Knights a much-needed boost at wing. Milano played most of last season as the Ducks’ second-line left winger.
Another area in which the Golden Knights desperately need help is on the powerplay. They finished 25th in the league last season. Milano is not as well-versed in the powerplay as someone like Kessel but still has experience in the man-advantage. He played on the first powerplay unit with the Ducks last season that finished 14th overall in the NHL in scoring percentage.
Not to sound like a broken record or anything by Milano overall simply gives the Golden Knights more scoring. His 34 points last season were more than Mattias Janmark, Keegan Kolesar, and William Carrier’s point totals.
It’s been nearly a month since the NHL free agency market opened up, which means Milano has been searching for a contract for even longer than that as the Anaheim Ducks decide to release him as an RFA. At this point in the offseason, players are more likely to take pay cuts to guarantee a spot in the NHL next season. We saw this with Danton Heinen and the Pittsburgh Penguins and could see Milano take a cheap bargain contract as well.
Unlike many of the other older free agents that remain on the market, Milano is still young. He is just 26 years old and a former first-round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016. He is the definition of a project player, similar to current Golden Knights Brett Howden and Nolan Patrick. It could be well worth the risk if he pans out for the VGK.
Like many young players in the NHL, Milano struggled with scoring consistently in 2021-22. He went through an 11-game scoreless drought and also missed 16 games due to injury.
Still A Contract
I know I stated earlier that the price for Milano would be cheap, and I stand by that. But for the Golden Knights, they are up against the salary cap and cannot afford to take on any more money that they don’t have to. They have roughly $2 million in salary cap space left and still have to resign Nicolas Hague and Jake Leschyshyn as RFAs. Adding Milano could force Kelly McCrimmon to make yet another salary-cap dump move.