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Looking At The Capitals Current Plan For Sonny Milano

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Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals find themselves in a tough situation to open the 2022-23 campaign. Not only are they off to the worst start in the Metropolitan Division, but they’re again dealing with injuries, as Connor Brown is out long-term with a lower-body injury.

Washington is now without three top-6 forwards and lacks support on special teams, as Brown, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and Carl Hagelin are all out for a while. The only player expected back in the near future is Wilson, who is still two months away from getting back into game action. And right now, those absences are quite noticeable as the team struggles to win neutral zone battles and generate pressure and chances in the neutral zone while also lacking energy and aggression on the penalty kill.

So far, the Capitals are being outscored 18-10 to open the season and are struggling to get a lot of shots and high-danger chances. Taking all of that into account, the team needs a boost up front, and new signee Sonny Milano may just be a possible answer.

Milano inked a one-year, one-way contract worth $750,000 on Sunday, and after clearing waivers, he headed to the AHL’s Hershey Bears on loan, which is part of the organization’s plan to get him back up to full speed after he was off the ice for a few weeks after the Calgary Flames released him from his PTO on Oct. 6. He had played in four preseason games and had a so-so training camp.

“Sonny’s got to get going here,” head coach Peter Laviolette said with regard to Milano staying in Hershey. “He’s got to get down and get to start playing some games and get acclimated.”

He also added that Milano brings a lot of much-needed depth to the organization, especially after losing regular call-ups Brett Leason and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby to waivers.

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Milano made Hershey debut on Friday and dished an assist in the Bears’ tilt with Charlotte. As he gets up to speed and shows what he can do, he could potentially earn a call-up with things not clicking up in D.C. and several scorers on the shelf.

So far, the Capitals aren’t winning their neutral zone battles and find themselves constantly turning over the puck. In turn, they can’t generate too many scoring chances, and there’s not that much identity up front yet. Connor McMichael and Joe Snively are the extras and Aliaksei Protas also earned a spot. However, if Milano brings a lot to the table in the minors, he could get a look up front with the team needing more firepower.

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Milano has shown that he can play a top-6 role. He’s crafty with the puck and knows how to finish his scoring chances, and he has good vision as well. In 66 games last season, the 26-year-old finished with 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points. He knows where to be, can crash the net and make some noise in the offensive zone. Still, he needs to be better with consistency and must play a complete 200-foot game. If he can do that, he can be a difference-maker. Plus, with Dylan Strome potentially needing another winger, he could benefit the club there.

A call-up isn’t guaranteed for Milano, though. While the 6-0, 200-pound forward has shown that he can play top-6 minutes, McMichael and Snively also want to be full-time members of the lineup, and other AHLers like Beck Malenstyn want to earn a stay with the big club as well. Hendrix Lapierre could also make enough noise to put himself on the radar. So, in his AHL stint, Milano will have to show more than he gave in his tryout with Calgary.

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