Well, that’s unexpected.
After largely being considered one of the best unsigned free agents on the market all summer long, former Anaheim Ducks forward Sonny Milano will now head into training camp still without a contract, reportedly agreeing to a professional tryout offer from the Calgary Flames on Monday morning.
In all fairness, it took Milano a while to truly carve himself out a spot in the NHL. Longer than most expected of him, really.
But the little guy finally broke through last season as a consistent big-league producer, pairing particularly well alongside rookie phenom Trevor Zegras to give the up-and-coming Ducks some exciting offensive punch on an otherwise depleted roster.
Financials certainly played the primary factor in the Ducks’ decision to decline handing Milano a qualifying offer and therefore banishing him to the free agent market well before he should have. The 26-year-old made $1.7 million last season, had arbitration rights heading into the summer, and was coming off a year in which he scored 34 points in 66 games on a bad team. In the eyes of an arbitrator, his case was solid. And if both sides elected to head down that route, the Ducks could’ve been saddled with a far higher number than they’d be comfortable paying him.
Obviously, looking back on it today, that ultimately did not pan out. So, they cut him loose. And for some reason, no one felt confident enough to offer Milano a guaranteed contract, forcing him to settle for a training camp invite.
Still, Milano is too good to be without a permanent home this late into the summer. A good showing at Flames camp can go a long way to change the perception around him right now, and if Calgary ultimately opts against signing him for the rest of the season, there’s a good chance one of the other 31 teams across the league will take the plunge themselves.