Six young NHL players making noise early in 2017-18 season – USA TODAY


USA TODAY Sports asked NHL players to sketch their team logos at NHL/NHLPA media tour in New York on Sept. 7. Here are the results. USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano was selected 16th overall in the 2014 draft.(Photo: James Guillory, USA TODAY Sports)

Sonny Milano was drafted in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2014 because he can make dazzling plays and he’s playing for them now because he has learned when to turn off that instinct to be fancy.

“Instead of looking for the flashy play, he’s making the right play,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told USA TODAY Sports. “When the flashy play is there to be made, he can make it.”

Milano, 21, has netted four goals in his first three games this season to provide scoring depth to a Blue Jackets team with big expectations. The Blue Jackets acquired Artemi Panarin to give the team a dynamic offensive presence, and Milano is showing he can be another player with the ability to ignite an offense with a memorable play.

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“But you have to look for the right opportunity for those plays,” Kekalainen said. “That’s the big change this season … sometimes he makes the simple little chip and just puts the puck in the right area.”

As the NHL gets younger, we are accustomed to seeing high draft picks jump directly from the junior ranks to the NHL. But Milano earned his way to the NHL by spending 127 games in the American Hockey League.


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