Buzzing The Net

NHL draft tracker: Sonny Milano, U.S. under-18 team

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Milano is NHL Central Scouting Service's 16th-ranked North American skater (CP)

Sonny Milano, as one would expect with a slippery stickhandler, is not going to be put in a box.

The Boston College recruit and potential NHL first-round pick has a higher profile than the typical high-end prospect after a video of his sleight of hand went viral three weeks ago. Milano, though, is mindful of the need to keep showing that he can use his speed and supple hands for practical purposes. He certainly did so this season with 86 points across 58 games with the U.S. under-18 team.

"I remember I watched Tomas Jurco, he was at the CHL prospects game [in 2011] and he was flipping pucks," Milano says of the Detroit Red Wings prospect and former star with the Quebec League's Saint John Sea Dogs. "I thought that was pretty cool so I started practising that.

"You want to be a hockey player, though," adds the Boston native, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 16-ranked North American skater. "That stuff, it's not going to do much for you on the ice. That's just something I do for fun.

"I'd say I'm a skilled player, dynamic with good hands and good feet. I can create offence."

Milano, who regularly went up against NCAA Division I foes with the U18 team, has shown he can harness his wits more than well enough to overcome being a modest-sized 5-foot-11½ and 183 pounds. In keeping with most graduates from the NTDP program, he's also dogged defensively and on the forecheck.

Milano's ability at reading the ice has also been enriched by being the regular left wing of Jack Eichel, who's considered to have the best chance (relatively) of challenging Connor McDavid as the first overall pick in 2015.

The linemates will see each other a lot in the fall, albeit as opponents. Eichel is committed to the Boston University Terriers.

"Jack's obviously a great player, probably the best I've played with my whole life," Milano says. "Sometimes it could be a little tricky to read him with the way his body moves and the way he stickhandles. Once you get it, it's pretty good to play with him.

"My line was me, Alex Tuch and Eichel and now Eichel is going to BU and Tuch and I are going to BC. It'll be a pretty good rivalry."

1. Which NHL player(s) do you study closely, or more to the point, whose game do you think yours resembles?

"I think of [the Chicago Blackhawks'] Patrick Kane. I think we excel in the same categories. He's a pretty good player offensively and I kind of try to model my game after him."

2. How did your train of thought flow when it came to committing to Boston College?

"I always dreamed of going to BC. It's close to my house so my family can watch me play. Great history, of course, a lot of guys to the NHL, a lot of championships."

3. What is your overall comment on how you came along over your time with the national team development program?

"That was a great two years there that I would not trade for anything. The stuff they do off the ice is what makes the difference. We have a military guy come in to work on stuff and we do off-ice three times a week. It builds character.

"The U18 world championships that we won in Finland in April, that was two years' hard work right there."

4. What stacks up as the most humbling experience of your career?

"Definitely the U17 year with the NTDP [in 2012-13]. We won three games total and a lot of people probably didn't think we were going to have the year we had this year. We worked hard in the summer and that paid off in a great year."

5. Who is the most challenging defenceman you have ever faced?

"[St. Louis Blues first-round pick] Jordan Schmaltz from when we played the University of North Dakota. He's quite the D-man."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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