It’s hard to talk about Sonny Milano without talking about Jack Eichel, the Boston University commit who will go No. 1 or No. 2 in the 2015 draft. Eichel has been talked about for almost two years now as one of the best US prospects to ever develop, playing on the U20 team as a 17 year old. He is the current embodiment of what USA hockey will be in the future.
Why is Eichel important to this discussion you may ask? Because Sonny Milano, a probable first round draft pick this year, was Eichel's right hand man in 2013-14.
Milano is an explosive forward that dazzles with his feet and his stick. Always aggressive, he uses his skill set to dismantle the opposing defense. High-octane puck skills led him to impressive numbers in both the World Junior Championship and the USNTDP this past year, and most scouts will agree that he has few flaws on his side of his game. And as said above, one of the most telling features about Milano is that the US coaching staff trust him to compliment their star pupil.
There are, however, some concerns in the rest of his game that will need more development. Milano is not the best defensive player on the USNTDP. The concern is that his aggressiveness leads to missed judgment calls and taking himself out of the play. Also, there are some strength issues that could see him struggle above his current level, and depending on your point of view, there could be some concern knowing that he excelled playing with one of the elite players from the ‘96 year. I’m personally not really concerned it will affect him offensively going forward, but if he is too much of a liability defensively, that could be a problem.
Milano is committed to Boston College, and my guess is he will play there for two or three years before making the jump to the NHL. The NCAA is only getting better, and playing there could better for overall development than a CHL/AHL stint in the same three-year timeframe. Plus, playing at a world class hockey factory like BC is never a bad thing for player development.
Born – 5-12-1996
Nationality - USA
Height – 5’11"
Weight – 185 lbs
Position – Forward (C/LW)
Team(s) – USDP; USA (WJC); Boston College commitment
So what are the chances the Flyers take Milano? Recent years have shown the Flyers interest in the defensive side of the game with 1st round picks. Players like Scott Laughton, Samuel Morin and Sean Couturier are all two-way players. That being said, they have been known to take chances on pure offense forwards that have worked out in the NHL. Simon Gagne, Justin Williams and Claude Giroux were all considered offensive forwards that developed defensive games in their prime development years.
Another benefit for the Flyers would be the NCAA commitment. The Flyers don’t really have a spot for another forward right now, but having a potential top-6 forward in the wings at Boston College for the next few years could be an ideal situation if or when some of our current players move on.
The drawback to drafting Milano will always be defense. As good as his offensive game can be, without proper development, he could still be a liability for whoever ends of drafting him. Just look at Danny Briere or Vincent Lecavalier. Despite putting up some good numbers, their overall game in many ways can hurt a team more than it helps, and there's no guarantee that an 18 year old will live up to offensive potential that could place him in their category.
Sonny Milano does have a high ceiling compared to other potential players in this spot, and that could be good enough for the Flyers to take a chance on him later this month.