Regular Season Stats: 16 GP, 4 G, 2 A, 6 PTS, +2
Postseason Stats: 9 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT, +2
Scoring in your debut and doing it the way you have for your entire pro career? That was the defining moment for Aston-Reese this season. He scored twice, actually, but he had been the player of the game to that point. He made his presence felt on the score sheet and the hitting department as he was a physical presence for the Penguins on Sidney Crosby‘s line.
Player Grade (B-)
This season was Zach Aston-Reese‘s first in the NHL. He did everything he could in the AHL to achieve the opportunity to get the call up. His game is eerily similar to that of teammate Patric Hornqvist but obviously no one can do it like ‘Horny’.
Aston-Reese debuted on February 14th and made his impact felt immediately. He scored two goals that night and they were both the gritty, net-front presence type of goals you’d expect out of him. He is a hard nosed player and he proved that with his performance in that game and over the course of the season.
He played pretty well in the regular season and showed that same grit in the playoffs. He only had 1 assist in the playoffs but a lot of the Penguins’ depth was decimated by the Capitals. Aston-Reese’s season ended in game three when Tom Wilson laid a high hit on Aston-Reese that resulted in a three game suspension for Wilson and a broken jaw and concussion for ‘ZAR’.
Role for 2018
Aston-Reese’s role isn’t totally defined for next season. The Penguins currently have a lot of wing depth and still have to make room for Daniel Sprong who’s expected to become a full-timer next season. Aston-Reese was in the playoff lineup so he obviously is favored by the coaching staff. There is a good chance Aston-Reese will be in the Opening Night lineup come October but the line he plays on and his linemates seem to still be in limbo.
I truly believe in Aston-Reese’s ability to be a top-six player only because he does the things you’d like to see out of a PP2 guy and is the best comparison to Hornqvist the Penguins have. He’ll be a part of their long term plans so we’ll see how things shake out for him next season.