Sonny Milano's ups and downs as a Columbus Blue Jacket have been well documented. He's got tremendous talent, that's always been known, but what has plagued his lack of NHL appearances are his qualities outside of offensive ability.
And that's not to say it's just his defensive play. Earlier this season, head coach John Tortorella clarified that it's not necessarily his play away from the puck, but the ability to know when and when not to take risks in the offensive zone.
Milano even looked like he damaged his chances for NHL success this summer after his arrest on misdemeanor assault charges.
Now, due to injuries and line-jumbling, Milano has been promoted to the third line where he will be paired with Josh Anderson and Boone Jenner. And there's a lot to suggest he may be successful in this new role.
First, Milano has always produced, regardless of ice time. After 79 NHL games, Milano holds a stat line of 17 goals and 12 assists. While the production is respectable, it's more impressive considering his limited TOI.
Despite averaging just under 10 minutes per game since 2017-2018, Milano boasts a 0.034 points per 60 minutes rate. Points per sixty (P/60) is a measurement used to compare players' production despite disparities in ice time. For reference, 0.034 p/60 is how much Pierre-Luc Dubois (the Blue Jackets No. 1 center and leading scorer) averages this season alone.
Milano currently leads the 2019-2020 Blue Jackets in points p/60 with 0.060 and sits 31st player in the NHL in this metric, according to Fox Sports.
All this to say that with an increased opportunity, Milano's production will reflect more of his point-producing ability.
Second, Milano has appeared to limit the offensive risk-taking that lead to high-danger scoring opportunities for the opponent. While this can be noticed in watching his play this season, it can also be seen in the limited number of high-danger scoring chances the team has given up while he is on the ice.
Milano's high danger chances percentage this season is 60% (according to Natural Stat Trick), meaning he is limiting dangerous chances against while still producing scoring opportunities. Again, for reference, in 2017-2018 when he was producing but unsuccessful overall because of his risk-taking, his high danger chances percentage was 48.91%.
Finally, man, can he score. Two of the Blue Jackets' highlight goals this young season have come from Milano's stick. And they were excellent.
Milano has always had a knack for capitalizing on chances and that can be seen in his shooting percentage: his career shooting percentage is an astounding 19.5%, while the average shooting percentage for an NHL player is 9.11%.
On a team starved for finishers, Milano's promotion bodes well for both the player and team.
While Milano has struggled to stick in the NHL, there's much to suggest that he could shine in his new role with Anderson and Jenner. With elevated opportunity, both the Blue Jackets and fans alike will see if the former first-round pick still has potential to be claimed.