NHL Draft: Columbus Blue Jackets Select LW Sonny Milano
With the No. 16 in the NHL Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected LW Sonny Milano out of the United States Developmental League. Milano is a player with a lot of scoring touch, and he does it in a very Ron Duguay-esque way. He is a kid with a lot of moxie, and clearly his new team recognizes that he will not only be a premier scorer, but that he will attract a lot of fans with his play.
The 5-11, 183 pound left-winger is very creative offensively. He does not have a quick release, and is not a premium sniper like some prospects in the draft, but he does have excellent skills with his stick, and is a quality play-maker. He has very soft hands, and is a precise passer. This is one of the best aspects of his game in fact. He has such a good touch on the puck that he can easily thread the needle and send teammates on rushes and breakaways.
He is also very patient with the puck. He clearly has an idea of what he wants to do with the puck on his stick, every time he touches it. This makes him very purposeful, but not locked into some sort of tunnel vision. He makes adjustments as needed and sees the flow of the game quite well.
His soft hands also equate into him being a solid stick handler. He controls the puck well, and is strong enough to shield opposing players from being able to poke it away. He moves with the puck like it is nearly glued to his stick, and this makes him very hard to defend against.
One of the reasons why Columbus Blue Jackets liked LW Sonny Milano in the first round of the NHL draft, is because he is a great scorer. He has incredible touch, despite not having a great wrist shot or slap shot. He can improve his goal scoring touch, and this will likely happen. In the meantime, he could easily be a 15 goal scorer in his first season, and has the potential to be a 30-plus scorer.
There are a few knocks on his game however. First, he has a fairly small frame and will be beaten down in front of the net. He is going to have to add about 20 pounds to his build and a lot of strength if he expects to take his game to a new level. Right now a 220-pound defenseman would clear him out like he was sweeping dirt off of the driveway. Also, Milano needs to improve his defensive game. He is clearly not a two-way player and could see his time limited if he does not improve his game on the defensive end of the ice. Lastly, he has committed to Boston College and so it may be a challenge for a team, because he will not be available to them for some time. However, this may be a good thing, as he has some aspects of his game that he needs to improve and Boston College is an excellent place to learn how to do that.
Sonny Milano was an excellent choice by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the NHL Draft. He will be a premier scorer for them one day, but he must first add some bulk and strength. If he can also add to his defensive game, he could be a perennial all-star each year.
Commentary by Robert Pannier