Sonny Milano was brought in to help out when the Caps were hurt, but he is more than a spare part.
|12.9||time on ice per game|
|50.1||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage|
|49.7||5-on-5 expected goal percentage|
|-6||5-on-5 goal differential|
For on-ice percentages, 50 percent means even: both teams possess the puck evenly. Higher is better, lower is worse.
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows how the player has impacted play when on the ice. At the top of the image is the team’s offense (even strength at left, power play at right) and at bottom is the team’s defense (with penalty kill at bottom right). In each case, red/orange blobs mean teams shoot for more from that location on the ice, and blue/purple means less. In general, a good player should have red/orange blobs near the opponent’s net at top, and blue/purple bobs near their own team’s net at bottom. The distributions in middle show how the player compares to league average at individual finishing, setting up teammates to score, and taking and drawing penalties.
About this player card: This image from Evolving Hockey shows an overview of the player across different parts of their game. At top right are the players percentile rank (1 is worst; 100 best), overall and on offense and defense separately. Higher numbers are in blue. Below are the player’s contributions in different compartments of the game using the goals-above-replacement or GAR metric. Higher numbers (again in blue) mean the player adds value compared to an average AHL call-up player.
About this visualization: At three times during the season, RMNB shared an open survey with fans, asking the following question for each player:
On a scale from 1 to 5, how HAPPY are you to have this player on the team?
1 means VERY UNHAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
2 means UNHAPPY
3 means NEITHER HAPPY NOR UNHAPPY
4 means HAPPY
5 means VERY HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
The numbers above show the average score for the player in each survey period.
We were two games into the regular season when the Caps realized they were in trouble. When Connor Brown (remember him?) went down two games later, Washington’s injury problem became a full-blown crisis. The team was very lucky a player of Sonny Milano’s caliber was available.
And how was he available? I don’t think we’ll ever get a good story. Milano was killer for the Ducks playing alongside Trevor Zegras two seasons ago, but the team opted not to extend him and he went unsigned in free agency. Milano tried out for the Flames, and that didn’t work out either, so it was a series of curious contingencies that led him to Washington.
Was it his work ethic? Bad attitude? I don’t know, and we’ve never heard more than rumors about it. Either way, Milano was exactly the player Washington needed. He spent a ton of time with Evgeny Kuznetsov, lowering Kuznetsov’s opponent expected-goal rates when together; and he seemed for a bit to have strong chemistry with Dylan Strome. That might be a fun look next season if both of those players get softer second-line assignments.
It’s clear the Caps like what they saw in Milano. Even as the team was floundering, they decided to give Milano term on his next deal: three years, meaning Milano might be a Cap longer than Alex Ovechkin. Get used to the hair.
Why did Milano go unsigned last summer? Where do you think he belongs in the Caps lineup?
This article would not be possible without HockeyViz, Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and All Three Zones. Please consider joining us in supporting them. For people interested in learning more from those resources, we recently published video walkthroughs.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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