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Miletic had monster year after signing with Pens

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Sam Miletic's named wasn't called during the 2017 NHL Draft, but that didn't mean teams weren't interested.

Miletic had many suitors attempting to lobby him to tryout for their respective club. But of all the teams that rang Miletic, he chose Pittsburgh.

"This is top on the list for everyone," he said. "Just the history, winning back-to-back a couple of years ago, a great organization up and down. They do a great job in the AHL, too."

Miletic accepted the organization's invitation to attend development camp that summer and training camp later in the fall. It was after a preseason game that assistant general manager Bill Guerin grabbed Miletic to give him the good news.

"We walked into the rink and Bill Guerin pulled me aside and said, 'We'd like to offer you (a contract).' It was awesome," Miletic recalled. "It was the best moment of my life. I was star struck at first. It was awesome once it sank in.

"Going into camp everyone hopes for that. It's every little kids dream to play in the NHL or get a contract."

 Miletic returned to his junior club in London of the Ontario Hockey League, where he lit up the scoresheet. He notched 16 goals and 54 points in 35 games for the Knights before a mid-season trade sent him to Niagara.

The change of scenery and jersey couldn't stop the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan native. He added 20 goals and 38 points with the IceDogs, bringing his 2017-18 season totals to 36 goals and 92 points. Miletic was named a Second Team OHL All-Star and ranked third in Overage Player of the Year voting.

Miletic has always shown an ability to score goals. His 36 goals last year was one shy of the 37 he posted 2016-17.

"He scores goals. He finishes," said Pens director of player development Scott Young. "He's great in tight areas. He's impressive. I think that's a really good signing by us."

Miletic attributes his success last year to the things he learned during his time in Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's training camps.

"I think getting a taste, playing in a couple preseason games last year with Pittsburgh and being in Wilkes-Barre, it showed me what it takes to be a pro," he said. "There are very few organizations that work top-to-bottom as hard as this one. Just take the work ethic that I learned here and bring it to the OHL last year."

But learning those pro habits is a two-way street, and a player has to be receptive to what he is taught.

"He has pro habits. You can see it out here in practice," Young said. "His habits during every drill, he wants to do it the right way. He wants to be as efficient as possible. He's a hard worker."

Miletic attended the clubs development camp a few weeks ago. But this time there wasn't the added pressure of trying to fight for a contract.

"It's a lot different. Having more confidence," he said. "Anytime you do something for the first time you're a little unsure of things. You don't really know how they work. Coming in this year I'm familiar with my surroundings. The staff here is incredible. They make you feel right at home."

But even though he doesn't have to worry about signing his name on the dotted line, that doesn't mean he can take things easy.

"(There's) more to prove. Prove that you earned it," Miletic said. "At the end of the day you're supposed to be a leader now, too. Having that was nice. It's a weight off of your shoulders. You can just go have fun and play."

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