The injury news keeps on rolling in for the Penguins. On the same day they announced star center Evgeni Malkin had a fairly minor elbow surgery, the team also announced forward Zach Aston-Reese is out for six months following a shoulder surgery. From the team:
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese underwent successful left shoulder surgery, it was announced today by general manager and executive vice president Jim Rutherford.
The surgery was performed at UPMC Montefiore Hospital by team physician, Dr. Dharmesh Vyas.
Aston-Reese is expected to be sidelined for six months.
Injuries have marred Aston-Reese’s career, he also missed the final 12 games of the 2019-20 regular season with an undisclosed lower body injury. This latest surgery time is in-line with the typical rotator cuff/labrum injury that many hockey players endure (including recently Dominik Simon, who had the same prognosis of a shoulder injury and six month absence earlier this year).
Aston-Reese did seem to suffer from a lack of outward passion and energy this playoff, and if he was gutting out a hurt shoulder, that would certainly make sense as to why his performance wasn’t that great.
The 2020-21 season is tentatively scheduled to begin on December 1st, according to the initial plan. A six month absence for Aston-Reese would put him looking at a mid-February return, which would cost him at least about 2.5 months of the 2020-21 season.
Aston-Reese is already under contract for next season, having signed a two-year, $1.0 million per season deal last summer.
Based on that, this news could be an opportunity for a player like Sam Lafferty or Evan Rodrigues to have one more extra lineup spot open to start next season. We know the Pens want to get younger and faster, and a player like Lafferty or Rodrigues would fit that mold on what is going to shape up to be a new-look fourth line next season without the services of Aston-Reese for at least the start of it.