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Zach Aston-Reese Signs PTO with Maple Leafs

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NHL news, pittsburgh penguins, zach aston-reese

Former Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese most likely has a new team. On Friday, the formerly undrafted free agent, who sets analytics tongues wagging with over-the-top defensive numbers, signed a PTO with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto has been a regular-season rock star but has not made it past the opening act in the playoffs for 19 years running. With goal-scoring talent that is the envy of the league, including Rocket Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews and talented scorers like Mitch Marner and John Tavares, offense has not been an issue with the league’s most followed team.

Preventing goals has been the issue.

“Zach wanted a place to contribute and a place to win. Toronto was both of those,” a source close to Aston-Reese told PHN.

Aston-Reese, 28, had five goals last season. He scored just two in 52 games for the Penguins before being dealt to Anaheim at the NHL trade deadline in the Penguins’ acquisition of Rickard Rakell. In 17 games with Anaheim, Aston-Reese scored three goals and four points. Overall, he had 15 points (5-10-15) in 69 games.

He cleared out his Pittsburgh apartment in May.

Last season, Aston-Reese also had 231 hits and started about 66% of his shifts in this defensive zone. While in Pittsburgh, he was a primary member of the Penguins’ league-leading penalty kill, which remained in the top three through the end of the season.

Stat gurus calculate Aston-Reese as one of, if not the, most difficult forward to score upon.

In five seasons with the Penguins, Aston-Reese played 213 games, scoring 29 goals and 62 points.

A PTO (professional tryout agreement) means the player does not count against the team’s cap space until he signs an official contract, usually before the end of training camp or the start of the regular season.

According to PuckPedia.com, Toronto is about $1.5 million over the salary cap and has 14 forwards already on the roster. However, several of those forwards are minimum-salary earners. Aston-Reese will have a good chance to make the team, though he is unlikely to get much more than the league minimum.

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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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Jeff Young
Jeff Young
19 days ago

Only a PTO? Hmm.

Bachinga
Bachinga
19 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Young

Hard to imagine that he would not make that team.

How come none of the Pittsburgh hockey sleuths have figured out why ERod fired his agent and the ancillary has yet to be signed anywhere…?