ARLINGTON, Va. — The Capitals will debut a new set of jerseys and a new player Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes. Winger Sonny Milano is set to join Washington in its first game with the black and copper Reverse Retro jerseys, skating on the second line at morning skate alongside Dylan Strome and Marcus Johansson.
“He’s a guy that’s proven he can produce at the NHL level,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said at his press conference after practice. “He had a good year last year in Anaheim offensively and he started off well down in Hershey so we’re going to give him an opportunity tonight.”
Milano, 26, scored 14 goals with 20 assists in 66 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season but saw his production tail off down the stretch. The Ducks opted not make him a qualifying offer and Milano was forced to settle for a professional tryout with the Calgary Flames. After he didn’t stick there, the Capitals scooped him up for some organizational depth.
“Definitely excited,” Milano said Saturday of making his Capitals debut. “It was definitely a weird summer so definitely excited to get a game in here.
“I was just ready for a deal in the summer and they were the ones that offered me a one-way and honestly it was after the season started so it wasn’t ideal but it all worked out.”
Washington signed Milano to a one-year, $750,000 deal on Oct. 16 but immediately had to place him on waivers to loan him to its AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. Milano went unclaimed and appeared in five games for the Bears with two goals and an assist before being recalled Wednesday when the Capitals placed three players on Injured Reserve.
The Massapequa, New York, native is one of several call-ups the Capitals have inserted into their lineup in recent weeks to help them survive a string of injuries that have five forwards on the shelf expected to miss extended time.
A player who showed strong chemistry with Ducks star Trevor Zegras last season, Milano will now have the chance to build some with Strome and Johansson on the Capitals’ second line.
“I used to play against them a bunch,” Milano said. “I know how they play, they’re really smart player, got some speed and a lot of really good skill so definitely good.”