While much (if not all) of our attention around the New York Islanders has been directed to My name is Kadri in recent days, another free agent who remains unsigned is from Long Island sonny milano. In our “best of the rest” series, James Nichols profiled Milano and broke down his career trajectory, chemistry with Trevor Zegrasand the ability to play – including knowing when to get out of the way.
At 26, Milano’s career seemed to be gaining momentum until he didn’t receive a contract from the Anaheim Ducks this off season. It came as a modest surprise as Milan’s play seemed to have peaked last season. He had 34 points (14G+20A) in 66 games, fitting in well on a line with Zegras.
A few weeks ago, I saw Milano’s name on a list. No, not the remaining free agent rosters. A 5v5 main assist projection based on A3Z passing data (all three zones) and courtesy assists fresh hockey. Look at the company he keeps. All-Stars, Hart Trophy winners, Stanley Cup champions, Mathieu Barzal, and Sonny Milano! Even if you attribute Milano’s projections to playing with Zegras, most of the players listed here skate alongside gifted strikers.
Of Alex Chauvancy in hockey writersMilano’s 52.02 CF% ranked first over the Ducks, while his 52.75 xG% was second Adam Henry. Even when paired with Zegras, his CF% and xG% were roughly break even (a touch above 49%). A look at his microstatic profile shows that even if his point production doesn’t come off the stat sheet, his game has characteristics that lead to scoring opportunities.
The advanced stats would indicate that Milano have something to offer the next team to give them a chance. He hasn’t been seriously linked with any team in recent weeks but remains an affordable UFA with an edge for play. It’s hard to find a spot on the Islanders’ roster for Milan – even before the rumored signing of Kadri – but if there is a multiplayer trade to coincide with a signing of Kadri, it is possible that this will change.
NHL players who grew up on Long Island AND are Islanders fans are rare. Now may not be the right time for a return to Milanbut while interest from other NHL teams remains dormant, it’s debatable whether that means there’s more than one UFA signing the Islanders could seek.
Whichever teams end up signing Milano should get a motivated first-round talent with something to prove at a critical time in his career.