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Penguins Land College Free Agent Zach Aston-Reese

The latest in a growing line of college free agents joins the Penguins, plus Pat McGrath meets his fate.

2016 Beanpot Tournament - Consolation Game Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Conor Sheary. University of Massachusetts-Amherst, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, just scored his 20th goal of the 2016-17 NHL (that's NATIONAL Hockey League) season last night in a 3-2 shootout loss to Calgary.

Thomas Di Pauli. University of Notre Dame. Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2012, opted to become a free agent instead of signing with Washington, signed with Pittsburgh on August 19, 2016. Has scored one goal in 12 games for the WBS Penguins after fighting off some injuries to start the season.

Ethan Prow. Undrafted out of St. Cloud State, the Hobey Baker Award finalist for the 2015-16 season signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 29, 2016. In five games during the 2015-16 WBS season, posted one assist; played in two Calder Cup playoff games, no points. One goal and 11 assists in 46 games for WBS this season.

Next up in the college free agent pipeline?

Meet Zach Aston-Reese, forward, out of Northeastern University.

Per the Penguins' news release, Aston-Reese is the leading goal scorer and point-getter in the NCAA this season, with 31 goals and 63 points in 38 games. Aston-Reese also finished his collegiate career with a point-per-game average above 1.0.

Signed to a two-year entry level contract starting with the 2017-18 season today, Aston-Reese will report to the WBS Penguins on an amateur tryout contract starting this weekend, as WBS contests a home-and-home series with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Under AHL rules, college free agents signed after the trade deadline are eligible for the Calder Cup playoffs.

With Jake Guentzel, Oskar Sundqvist, Josh Archibald, and Carter Rowney all currently on the Pittsburgh roster after starting the season in WBS, the farm desperately needed some re-stocking, as WBS has seen its lead in the stacked Atlantic Division shrink to just four standings points and 2.2 percentage points over Lehigh Valley, with the Phantoms holding one game in hand. While I would expect there to be something of an acclimation period as Aston-Reese transitions his game from the NCAAs to the AHL, the addition of such a powerful collegiate weapon should no doubt boster WBS's already strong playoff hopes.

In other news...

There was fear that WBS's locally grown sparkplug, Patrick McGrath, would face substantial league discipline after leaving the bench on Saturday night to fight Providence's Tyler Randell after a scrum in front of the WBS bench. If the AHL applied Rule 70.10, McGrath was looking at six games.

The AHL announced Monday that McGrath would indeed be suspended, but they clearly bought head coach Clark Donatelli's argument, referenced in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader on Sunday, that McGrath was in the midst of a regular line change when he engaged Randell. As a result, the league suspended McGrath for three games instead of six, under the catch-all Rule 28 for supplementary discipline.

McGrath will therefore miss the two games this weekend against Lehigh Valley, as well as WBS's contest Tuesday, March 21, against Hartford.