Player: Zach Aston-Reese
Born: August 10, 1994 (26 years old)
Weight: 204 pounds
Hometown: Staten Island, New York (USA)
Draft: Signed as undrafted free agent
2020-21 Statistics: 45 games, nine goals, six assists, 15 points, plus-10
Contract Status: Aston-Reese is currently a restricted free agent entering this offseason.
The Penguins’ buzzsaw line of Zach Aston-Reese, Brandon Tanev, and Teddy Blueger did what was expected of them based on their regular season play: They locked things down defensively and played a lot of minutes against the New York Islanders’ top line. For the most part, they did very well stopping Mathew Barzal, and Aston-Reese was a big part of that. Offensively he scored one goal, a shorthanded goal in the closing minutes of a 4-1 loss in Game 4, while also recorded an assist on Tanev’s game-winning goal late in Game 3 of the series.
Story of the Season
Aston-Reese continued to establish himself as one of the league’s best defensive forwards and was a key cog in the Penguins’ shutdown line. In terms of suppressing opponents shots, chances, and goals, he was one of the most effective players in the league and chipped in more offense than expected. He was on pace to score 15 goals in an 82-game season, and when combined with his defensive impact is one of the best bottom-six players in the league.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 16 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 47.6 (13th)
Goals For%: 58.8 (6th)
xGF%: 50.8 (7th)
Scoring Chance %: 50.1 (8th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 51.4 (5th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 7.4 (14th)
On-ice save%: .948 (1st)
Goals/60: 0.75 (9th)
Zach Aston-Reese drives elite defensive results.
And seen again:
Zach Aston-Reese ties the game against the Washington Capitals.
His first career playoff goal.
Aston-Reese has found a home as a shutdown winger that can chip in some occasional offense in the form of dirty goals around the net. He is not going to make a lot of highly skilled plays and he might not finish all of the chances he gets, but he is a very good, valuable player for the role he is in.
It is going to look a lot like his 2020-21 season because, well, that is just the kind of player that he is. A dominant defensive forward that can chip in some offense from the fourth line. Want to make it an ideal season? A few more goals than he was on pace for this season.
Questions To Ponder
Will he be a Pittsburgh Penguins next season? He figures to get a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent given his play. But he also does not figure to be one of the seven forwards that the Penguins protect in the expansion draft. He could be an attractive player for the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft.
How Would You Grade Zach Aston-Reese’s 2020-21 Season?
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