The discourse around Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano has been ongoing.
The former first-round draft pick joined the organization with sky-high expectations and has yet to meet them.
Whether fair or not, Milano was known for having the puck on his stick and making plays. While that part of his game never went anywhere, it is what he is doing without it that is beginning to turn some heads.
Milano has always had good possession numbers but a lot of that was attributed to zone starts that started in the offensive zone. While most of his starts are still in the offensive zone, this is one of his lowest offensive zone start seasons since stepping into the league originally at the age of 19.
Milano is beginning to gain trust later in games and with teammates that are known as defensive grinders. Seeing time with Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner as of late means that his average time on ice has gone up nearly a full minute over his career average.
As for his rate stats, he is near the top of the team. He's playing nearly six minutes less per game than his teammates and is still producing. Meaning as the Blue Jackets begin to trust him more, he should be able to increase his offense as well. Against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, Milano saw a season-high in time on ice playing over 20 minutes.
The tantalizing potential has been enough to keep him around even during the lean years where the turnovers stuck out and his goal-scoring and creativity wasn't appreciated on the same level.
It appears the Milano-ssaince is taking place before our very eyes and putting him into the right spot allowing him to thrive is going to be important. Out of his 15 points this year, only one of them has taken place on the power play.
It only makes sense to start putting an offensive player on the man advantage and more than likely on the first unit as well.
Coaches have steadily been putting more on his plate but it will be interesting to see how he is handled moving forward. With plenty of forwards injured, he is getting ice but will it continue with a full lineup? He is making a case for himself and that is all he can do. At some point, the points and the play begin to speak for themselves, he no longer has the potential to lay back on.
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