By Matt Mackinder -
The rumors were rampant pretty much from the first day of the 2014 NHL Draft in late June – would Sonny Milano keep his commitment to Boston College or wind up playing in the Ontario Hockey League for the Plymouth Whalers for the 2014-15 season?
Just short of two months after Columbus selected the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Milano in the first round (16th overall) in Philadelphia, the rumors were put to rest as the 18-year-old from Massapequa, N.Y., chose the Whalers.
“It was obviously tough telling (BC head coach) Jerry York, but he understood,” said Milano, who played the past two years down the road in Ann Arbor for the U.S. National Team Development Program. “That was a tough call to make and maybe it hurts (BC) because it was so late in the summer, but this was a decision that I didn’t want to rush and once I talked it over with my family, we all agreed the OHL would help get me to the NHL faster.”
Other published reports have stated Milano signed with Columbus, but Milano said he hasn’t even been approached by the Blue Jackets.
“Maybe a strong start or a strong season will get me that contract, but there hasn’t been any talks yet,” confirmed Milano. “When I was drafted, Columbus said they had no preference one way or the other, that both the OHL and Boston College were good routes. They basically left it up to us to decide as a family.”
Milano was originally drafted by Plymouth in the fourth round (81st overall) during the 2012 OHL draft.
“We are very pleased to have a player of this caliber joining our organization,” said Whalers’ general manager Mark Craig. “My understanding is he lives for hockey and will bring a work ethic to our team that will force our players to a new level.”
“We’re very happy to have Sonny in Plymouth,” added Plymouth head coach Don Elland. “He has the potential and ability to become a great player for us. Sonny’s an exciting talent that will make our program stronger.”
With the NTDP’s Under-17 team in 2012-13, Milano scored 20 goals with 27 assists for 47 points in 56 games and then last season, scored 29 goals with 57 assists for 86 points in 58 games for the Under-18 team. Earlier this year, Milano and current Plymouth goalie Alex Nedeljkovic helped the United States win a gold medal in the World U-18 Championship, scoring three goals with seven assists for 10 points.
Milano also skated with second-year Whalers’ defenseman Josh Wesley with the NTDP in 2012-13, so along with Nedeljkovic and forward Brook Hiddink (whom he played with on the same team 11 years ago), he comes to town already knowing some of his current teammates, as well as his billets, the Freatman family, who he lived with the past two years while with the NTDP.
“We have a lot of returning players and just a couple new guys, so I’m hoping the chemistry is here from last season and I can be an impact player and find my role quickly,” Milano said. “I want to produce and I want to make an impact.
“I want to be a leader and whatever I do, it’s to put the team first.”