This afternoon, the Maple Leafs officially inked PTO signing Zach Aston-Reese to a 1 one-year pact. The 28-year-old can be referred to as a pure defensive forward. Consistently being in the high percentile rank when it comes to defence, ZAR is plain and simply a tank defensively. Appearing in 69 games last season split between Anaheim and Pittsburgh, Zach put up 15 points, 5 of them being goals. While his offensive impact is near inexistent, the Maple Leafs paid him for his defensive upside.
Personally, I was a bit surprised to only see him earn a PTO deal at first, as ZAR has been one of the best defensive forwards in the last couple of years. Sadly, if the Leafs are not satisfied with his play, Zach will have to go through waivers to be assigned to the Marlies. Though he hasn’t played an AHL game since the 18-19 season, with the extensive depth the Leafs own, he’ll have to earn his way into the lineup every night. That being said, I fully expect Aston-Reese to be on a shutdown defensive line on opening night and I’d still be surprised if he hit the waiver wire eventually.