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‘Big Smile,’ Aston-Reese, Penguins Settle on Two-Year Deal



Zach Aston-reese pittsburgh penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins and forward Zach Aston-Reese settled their arbitration hearing in Toronto Monday by agreeing to a two year, $2 million deal. The settlement allowed the two sides to agree to a two-year deal instead of the one-year deal which an arbitrator would have awarded.

The amount was a little less than the player asked but the security of a multi-year deal was enough to get the player’s signature on the paper. Sources close to Aston-Reese reported the player happy with the outcome, and “had a big smile.”

Update: Per the Penguins press release at 12 p.m., GM Jim Rutherford also commented on the deal.

“Zach is a responsible player who plays a solid two-way game. He has a heavy style of play that is especially effective on the forecheck and penalty kill”

Technically, the Penguins are over the salary cap by a couple hundred thousand dollars after signing Aston-Reese, but they have until opening night to become cap compliant, and sending one of the depth defensemen through waivers would also fix the issue as the Penguins presumably turn their attention to unsigned RFA Marcus Pettersson.

Last season, Aston-Reese, 24, was relegated to the Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to begin the campaign as the Penguins decided to give prospect Daniel Sprong a chance to stick in the NHL. Aston-Reese was recalled in November and played 43 games over the remainder of the season, including a couple of injuries which cost him significant time.

He scored 17 points (8g, 9a) in 43 games. estimated Aston-Reese would win just over $1.2 million in arbitration. PHN’s less scientific estimate was also in that $1.2 million range.

Interestingly, the Penguins now have a three-day buy-out window for all players who make above $3.455 million and were on the Penguins reserve list at the 2019 trade deadline.

Earlier this month, the Penguins inked restricted free agent Teddy Blueger to a two-year, $1.5 million contract. Blueger declined arbitration. The Penguins lone remaining restricted free agent is Pettersson.

Pettersson is estimated to make between $1.6 million (per Hockey-Graphs) and $2 million (per PHN unscientific guestimate). The Penguins can save another $700,000 by sending another defenseman through waivers. They could also make a hard decision to use Tristan Jarry as the backup goalie and save an additional $475,000 or nearly $600,000 if DeSmith were claimed on waivers or traded.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now has chronicled Aston-Reese’s summer training. He has been training with the Penguins Director of Sports Science in Toronto to increase his muscle mass. Aston-Reese has shown flashes of offensive output. Last season, he ascended to Evgeni Malkin’s left wing. He had points in four of six games before he broke his hand after a fight with Florida Panther Colton Sceviour.

He also had six points in 10 games, including five points in five games before suffering a lower body injury which derailed the remainder of his regular season.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
2 years ago

So Dan,

Now there just seems to be one last order of business. A trade so we can sign petterssen is very likely now, so do you see it being quick?

(BTW, congrats on being the first to break the story, nobody else had it for an hour!)

2 years ago

Good deal.HEY DAN did you see the hockey buzz blogger take a crack at you on his twitter feed?, He never and i mean never says anything positive .Great on you Dan for breaking it first Everybody was hoping for the 1.2 that was predicted and now he has gotten 1 million i see some sites complaining it is too much

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

This is not a story worth breaking. ZAR is made of china and hasn’t accomplished a thing at this level. A two-year, $2-million deal at 24 years of age screams volumes about how little the organ-i-zation thinks of him. #ChumpChange

2 years ago

I have never seen a fan base like this one, no matter how many cups and scoring champs and regular season wins each and every decision is questioned.If a player is gotten on the cheap he is crap and if he is gotten for a mid level contract he is vastly overpaid and if he is the greatest player of the last 25 years every time they don’t win he is blamed.If he is a 70 point defense man who has 3 cups he is slagged even though lesser defense are making millions more.In the Crosby era this team has… Read more »

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