For the primary time since former Penguins GM Jim Rutherford signed him to a two-year entry-level contract on March 14, 2017, Zach Aston-Reese has not secured a spot on an NHL roster heading into the season.
Instead, he’ll attempt to earn a deal on the Maple Leafs improvement camp later this month on the primary skilled tryout (PTO) contract of his profession.
Will Aston-Reese make on the Maple Leafs this season, or will he return to free company?
Either approach, will he lastly skate a full season as a full-time NHL participant—or will he slip again into the perimeter function he performed for 5 and a half years with the Penguins?
Aston-Reese performed about 55% of his 5 full seasons with the Penguins, or 213 video games out of a possible 384.
Some of that missed time was because of damage, together with a shoulder surgical procedure which saved him off the roster for six months in 2020-21. Aston-Reese additionally confronted periodic wholesome scratches all through his profession, hardly ever claiming a totally safe roster spot.
Aston-Reese’s time in Pittsburgh ended with a commerce to the Anaheim Ducks midway by final season. After the Ducks let him stroll as a UFA on the finish of his one-year contract in 2021-22, he’ll now be combating for a roster spot throughout Maple Leafs coaching camp.
JFresh referred to as ZAR “notorious for his mixture of constantly elite defensive metrics and non-existent puck abilities.” In 2019-20, Aston-Reese ranked first amongst all NHL forwards in lowest anticipated objectives in opposition to per 60 minutes, that means he all however smothered the opposition’s scoring makes an attempt when he was on the ice—even when he didn’t typically rack up many probabilities of his personal for the Penguins.
So, how seemingly is it that Aston-Reese will make it from a PTO to the Maple Leafs 2022-23 roster?
According to John MacKinnon of The Win Column, the variety of profitable PTO contracts in the NHL varies by season (with 2016-17 as a wild outlier), however most gamers who efficiently win a contract earn it with the crew they’re attempting out with in the preseason. Last season, 11 out of 31 PTO candidates earned contracts.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are dealing with a whole lot of questions on who will skate in their backside six, and Aston-Reese’s intensive expertise with the Penguins—which incorporates 23 beneficial postseason appearances—may make him an interesting possibility.
He made $1.725 million with a one-year arbitration contract with the Penguins final season, and he’ll want nearer to the league minimal to discover a spot on a crowded Maple Leafs roster. But if Aston-Reese agrees to a pay reduce, he may very effectively earn his subsequent skilled contract in Toronto.
If not, he’ll return to free company and seek for a bottom-six spot on a much less crowded NHL roster.
You’ve watched him play for years, so it is time so that you can chime in. What do you assume—will we, and may we, see Aston-Reese as a full-time participant in the NHL subsequent season?