Toronto Maple Leafs Sign Veteran Forward

Zach Aston-Reese signs

Unrestricted free agent Zach Aston-Reese has found himself a home, signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The deal is a one-year contract worth $840,000. Aston-Reese was in the Toronto training camp on a player tryout.

Toronto Signs Zach Aston-Reese

Undrafted, Aston-Reese signed on with the Pittsburgh Penguins after a dominant season at Northeastern University in 2017. He played 16 NHL games in 2017-18, another 43 in 2018-19, and finally won a full-time role in 2019-20. He has switched his game from being a scorer in university and in the minors to a physical bottom-six player. As a result, he’s going into his sixth NHL season – this time with *insertteamhere*

Aston-Reese is coming off a one-year, $1.725 million deal. He started the season with Pittsburgh but was traded in a deal for Rickard Rakell at the deadline. That move marked the first time he’s missed the playoffs, with the Anaheim Ducks falling well out of the race by then. In his 52 games in Pittsburgh, he scored twice and notched 11 total points. Post-trade, he added three more goals and four points in 17 Anaheim games.

What This Means

Aston-Reese is a straightforward, North-South style of player. He does well on the boards and plays like he appreciates his career. Unfortunately, he also seems to pick up an injury each year because of his style. He’s also not strictly a 5-on-5 player, pulling regular penalty-killing duty. Whether he can be much more than that at an NHL level remains to be seen – if he gets the chance. The potential is there for perhaps 40-ish points, but he’ll need a lot more ice time than he’s received so far.

Then again, if your team is putting him into the top-six, it means something’s gone horribly wrong. He can, however, fill in for a missing winger higher in the lineup for brief spurts. You hope not to use it, but he is a bit of a safety valve for his new team. And that is worth paying for.

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