Our annual 2020 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
#21 Sam Miletic, LW
2019 Ranking: #16
Age: 23 (May 4, 1997)
Acquired Via: undrafted free agent
Height/Weight: 6’0, 196 pounds
GOAL GIF - Sam Miletic with the backhander to open the scoring pic.twitter.com/p5M4XDxxAl— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) December 8, 2019
One important item to remember about this series is that we are counting down the top players in the Penguins’ ORGANIZATION. Not every prospect will pan out into becoming an NHL All-Star, but at this moment in time that does not leave them without value.
Sam Miletic is a player who provides the organization with value and is one of the stronger players in Wilkes-Barre. His boxcar stats did not take a step forward in his second professional season in 2019-20, but it was a choppy and uneven year in WB/S, even more so than normal. One positive for Miletic was he appeared in 62/63 AHL games after dealing with injuries in his rookie 2018-19 limited him to just 49 games.
The Penguins recently re-signed Miletic for 2020-21 and still have the door open for him to grow into more. Miletic, after all, was the only Wilkes-Barre player to make the AHL All-Star game last season.
As GM Jim Rutherford told the Tribune-Review:
“He’s a really smart player,” general manager Jim Rutherford said by telephone on Saturday. “He has really good hockey sense. He’s still in his development stage of bringing it all together, getting it all together. But with the hockey sense that he has and just continuing to play … he could have a chance.”
However, still being in a developmental stage now at age-23 probably caps the ceiling of what the likely future path of such a player will become in terms of NHL contributions. Miletic watched in 2019-20 as others like Sam Lafferty, Anthony Angello, Joseph Blandisi, Thomas Di Pauli, Adam Johnson, Andrew Agozzino and Stefan Noesen all got call-ups to the NHL and got the opportunity to appear in games. Miletic was not ahead of any of them in line.
This upcoming season may be different. Angello projects to be the first forward call-up, but almost all the other names have moved on. Ideally the Penguins won’t be as injured and banged up as they were last season, but if they do need further reinforcements to their NHL squads, Miletic is nearing readiness for an opportunity for a cameo to fill that role.
As an undrafted player the odds have always been long for Miletic, but he’s demonstrated an ability to be among the team’s best AHL level players. The question now as he gets towards aging out of the “under 25” portion of his career will be how much opportunity he gets to grow into a bigger role and perhaps make an NHL debut in the coming season.