Zach Aston-Reese

Pittsburgh Penguins
NHL.com

Fantasy Summary

A potential winger for one of the Big Two who adds a crash-and-bang element.


Attributes
Fantasy Upside 6.0
NHL Certainty 9.5
Country USA
Position RW
Roster Type NHL
Shoot/Glove Right
Date of Birth August 10, 1994
Height 6‘0”
Weight 205 lbs
Drafted No

Observations

July 2019 – The epitome of management’s stated intent to make the Pens younger, faster and harder to play against, the 24-year-old is attractive due to his puck skills and willingness to play physically. Regrettably, that has led to injuries that have cost him dozens of games in his young NHL career. We’ll cut him some slack because Tom Wilson caused one of those injuries with one of his vicious, suspendable hits. If not for setbacks and Pittsburgh’s miniscule cap space, the former Northeastern star might have commanded a richer contract. After inking a bridge deal, he’ll have two campaigns worth a $1-million AAV to prove himself. Mark Allan

June 2019 – A qualifying offer to retain his rights should lead to a short-term bridge deal, if only because of a growing pattern of injuries as well as murky offensive upside. That said, the Penguins value Aston-Reese’s physical willingness coupled with a low-key scoring touch. If he stays healthy, he could have a long NHL career as a complementary player. Mark Allan

April 2019 – A personal high of NHL games played sounds good, except the power forward made just 43 big-league appearances (eight goals and nine helpers). The six-footer upped his weight to 204, which helps him to play the physical style that is so valuable to the Penguins, but he missed a lot of games due to injury for the second straight season. It’s a troubling trend for the restricted free agent as he tries to land a new contract, and also a complication for GM Jim Rutherford as he decides what changes to make after a gut-wrenching, first-round sweep by the Islanders. Aston-Reese posted nine points, including six goals, in 11 AHL games, but was pointless in four NHL post-season outings as he likely returned a little too early from a lower-body injury. Mark Allan

March 2019 – The only good news about the latest injury to the versatile forward (suffered March 10 against the Bruins) is that he’s expected to be back for the playoffs. The bad news is that he’s gone week to week with a lower-body injury. While Aston-Reese’s crash-and-bang style brings a welcome physical element to the Pens, it’s increasingly taking a toll on his body, and he’s only 24. Mark Allan

February 2019 – After missing almost a month with a broken hand, Aston-Reese is skating with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, justifying his coach’s faith by looking like he believes he’s an NHLer. In 17:17 on the ice in a 4-3 victory over New Jersey, Aston-Reese had three shots on goal, and scored on one of them. His season totals of seven goals and seven assists in 34 games aren’t eye-popping but if your pool has a lot of categories, he registers in plus/minus, penalty minutes, shots and hits. Mark Allan

January 2019 – Pittsburgh values Aston-Reese for a rounded skillset that includes a willingness to get involved physically. He’s learning that comes with a price. After missing the first month recovering from a devastating Tom Wilson playoff hit, Aston-Reese is on IR and out indefinitely with a broken left hand, likely suffered Jan. 8 in a fight with Florida’s Coulton Sceviour. The Penguins will miss the feisty 205-pounder, who has 11 points in 30 games to go with plus-8. The 24-year-old will miss some RFA bargaining power in the off-season. Mark Allan

December 2018 – The versatile forward has integrated well with Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel. Aston-Reese has had success going to the net, which the Penguins need someone to do. In a 5-3 win over the visiting Bruins, he scored twice while adding an assist and a game-high nine hits, earning the game’s No. 2 star. Even when he doesn’t get any points, Aston-Reese is contributing. He dished out a game-high seven hits, in a 4-3 OT victory over the Kings. The 24-year-old went pointless in a 4-2 loss to Anaheim but had four SOGs, three blocked shots and five hits. Useful as a hard-working bottom-sixer or a complementary member of a scoring line, his fantasy upside depends on his deployment. Mark Allan

December 2018 – NHL points have been hard to come by for Aston-Reese (two goals in 11 outings). Scoring the winner in a 4-3 victory over the dangerous Winnipeg Jets was most welcome, though, considering Pittsburgh’s recent shortage of secondary scoring. The 24-year-old forward hasn’t entirely lost his scoring touch judging by six goals and three assists in 11 AHL games, while 18 PIMs indicate he’s still playing physically, but the NHL Penguins need him to regain the form he was starting to display late last season before Tom Wilson knocked him out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mark Allan

October 2018 – Aston-Reese gets a mixed grade for his first six AHL outings. Two goals and plus-five are relatively positive but zero assists is not. Ten penalty minutes indicate the physical nature of his game is functioning, although Pittsburgh likely wants to see more production in a larger sample size before recalling him. The NHL Penguins can afford to wait with their surplus of forwards, but Aston-Reese’s combination of skill and physicality will eventually prove irresistible. Mark Allan

October 2018 – In many other organizations, Aston-Reese would easily make the NHL roster out of training camp. In forward-rich Pittsburgh, he’s a late cut as the Pens trimmed to 24, one above the 23-man limit. While saying the hard-working winger got better as camp unfolded, head coach Mike Sullivan made a comment about Aston-Reese needing to get his swagger back, perhaps referring to the broken jaw and concussion that knocked him out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Aston-Reese will be back in Pittsburgh, which needs his physical element, and he could show up on almost any line. Mark Allan

September 2018 – Aston-Reese is reportedly fully recovered from a broken jaw and concussion courtesy of Washington’s Tom Wilson during the NHL playoffs. That’s half the battle: The other half will be finding a role in what is expected to be an extremely competitive training camp among a large group of NHL-worthy Pittsburgh forwards. Having already proved his versatility by lining up at RW as well as C, the former elite NCAA scorer might have to learn LW, too, if Daniel Sprong makes the Pens out of training camp. Aston-Reese’s odds are helped by a physical element rare among the team’s forwards. Mark Allan

June 2018 – The 2018 Stanley Cup hunt ended painfully for all Penguins in the second round, but none more so than this budding young power forward. Rocked by a Tom Wilson hit so dangerous the NHL imposed a three-game suspension, Aston-Reese suffered a broken jaw and a concussion. He underwent successful surgery to insert plates and screws in his jaw, and he seemed to be recovering quickly from the concussion. Considering he missed 13 regular-season outings with an upper-body injury, is his physical north-south style of play leading to injuries? He still made modest gains with 29 points and plus-21 in 16 AHL games, six points in 16 NHL league appearances and he got into nine Stanley Cup games. If he can stay healthy, Aston-Reese can help the Penguins and your fantasy team, especially if it includes PIMs. Mark Allan

June 2018 – Aston-Reese was enjoying a huge second half in the AHL after stumbling early on as he got acclimated. His stint in the NHL was so good that he remained with the team longer than was planned and was a regular in the postseason before taking a big hit that broke his jaw and ended his year. He should be on the big club this fall. Dobber

March 2018 – The Penguins say the young forward is “making progress” as he recovers from an upper-body ailment, although he’s been out five games and his absence is still listed as indefinite. The versatile Aston-Reese has shown great promise by tallying four goals and two assists in 10 NHL games (including some top-six minutes) on top of 29 points in 41 AHL contests. Plus-3 and plus-21 ratings in the NHL and AHL respectively indicate his points don’t come at the expense of his defensive play. Mark Allan

January 2018 – The former Hobey Baker finalist is trailing the eight-point pace he established in his 10-game AHL baptism late last season, but not by much. His 25 points in 38 games stand third in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scoring, while his 18 helpers are second on the baby Penguins only to the 20 by blueliner Kevin Kzuczman. Aston-Reese’s plus-19 is only one short of teammate Ryan Haggerty, while his 49 PIMs are third for WBS. It’s a promising showing in Aston-Reese’s first full pro campaign. Mark Allan

December 2017 – Matching three-point performances by linemates Jean-Sébastien Dea and Ryan Haggerty, Aston-Reese helped Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (12-2-0-1) stretch its AHL-leading 12th straight game streak with at least one point by beating Lehigh Valley 4-2. The three-assist effort by Aston-Reese is a big part of his nine points in 15 games as an AHL rookie. The former Hobey Baker finalist is tied for the team lead at plus-10 and has a team-high 25 PIMs, an intriguing combination for fantasy purposes. Mark Allan

September 2017 – Aston-Reese was among 21 players assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL, where had three goals and five assists in a 10-game late-season pro debut. The mass demotions leave 26 players in training camp before final cuts. Mark Allan 

September 2017 – Not that you should read much into line placement in a team’s first exhibition game, but Aston-Reese played with Teddy Blueger and Bryan Rust in a 4-3 OT loss in Buffalo, opening Pittsburgh’s scoring with an unassisted effort. Aston-Reese, Blueger’s AHL teammate at the end of last season, seems to be adjusting to the NHL pace and getting into better position. Mark Allan

June 2017 – After Pittsburgh snatched the Hobey Baker Award finalist from several other NHL suitors, the late-bloomer at Northeastern intrigued the Penguins’ braintrust with three goals and five assists in 10 late-season AHL games on a tryout with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The six-foot-205-pounder will begin his minor-pro career in earnest this fall with many eyes following his progress. With proper development, he could be a solid NHer. Mark Allan

March 2017 – Aston-Reese watched with Union forward Mike Vecchione as Denver defenseman Will Butcher received the 37th annual Hobey Baker Award, presented to the top NCAA men’s hockey player for on-ice skill as well as character inside and outside hockey rinks. Recently signed to a two-year, entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins and currently with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on an amateur tryout contract, the 22-year-old Aston-Reese was also named an All-American along with his fellow shortlist finalists. As a Northeastern University senior, he topped the NCAA with 31 goals in 38 games and finished in a three-way tie for the national points title with 63. As another canny signing by Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford, Aston-Reese has three goals and four assists in his first seven AHL games, adding seven PIMs and a plus-3 rating. Mark Allan

March 2017 – Aston-Reese has signed a free-agent contract with Pittsburgh. He was one of the most sought-after undrafted college free agents after leading the NCAA’s in goals (31) and points (63) in his senior season for the Northeastern Huskies. The forward has progressed offensively each season of his college career, but has always been a responsible defensive player since his freshman season. At the NHL level, his future likely lies as bottom-six forward who can provide secondary scoring and two-way play for the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions. Kevin LeBlanc


Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2009-2010 New Jersey Rockets MetJHL 36 13 20 33 31 | Playoffs 4 3 0 3 12 
 2010-2011 New Jersey Rockets AtJHL 25 9 20 29 65 |          
  Des Moines Buccaneers USHL 2 0 0 0 2 |          
  Lincoln Stars USHL 25 2 3 5 4 | Playoffs 1 0 0 0
 2011-2012 Lincoln Stars USHL 53 5 10 15 69 | Playoffs 8 1 2 3
 2012-2013 Lincoln Stars USHL 60 9 21 30 113 | Playoffs 5 3 2 5
 2013-2014 Northeastern Univ. NCAA 35 8 11 19 22 |          
 2014-2015 Northeastern Univ. NCAA 31 13 10 23 60 |          
 2015-2016 Northeastern Univ. NCAA 41 14 29 43 28 |          
 2016-2017 Northeastern Univ. NCAA 38 31 32 63 72 |          
  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 10 3 5 8 7 |          
 2017-2018 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 16 4 2 6 2 | Playoffs 9 0 1 1
  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 41 9 20 29 49 |          
 2018-2019 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 43 8 9 17 26 | Playoffs 4 0 0 0
  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 11 6 3 9 18 |          
 2019-2020 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL - - - - - |          

Highlights