The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forward Zach Aston-Reese to a PTO for this September’s training camp that begins on the 22nd. Aston-Reese spent five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in the return for Rickard Rakell. The left shooting winger was undrafted and signed with the Penguins out of the NCAA (not Harvard).

This is a must-read, by the way:

Dear Hockey Santa: Can I have Zach Aston-Reese this year?

In terms of what kind of player you can expect out of Aston-Reese, the simple answer is defense defense defense. A former Evolving Wild Selke Candidate, Aston-Reese was near the bottom of the league in zone start % at 5v5 last year. Not quite David Kämpf territory, but he was neighbours with Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev.

Aston-Reese’s defensive impact is also similar to that of Kämpf, though the Leafs centre has a little bit more offense and probably as much finishing ability. Last season especially, Aston-Reese didn’t shoot very much at all, for reference he contributed half as much in terms of shots and expected goals as Mikheyev.

So if Aston-Reese can impress at training camp and in the preseason, there could be a job for him on the Leafs. It won’t be to replace Mikheyev, but he’s going to be hoping to be the “next player up” on the fourth line to get third line minutes.

At the end of the day, Aston-Reese is a bona-fide NHLer and will get a job somewhere if it’s not the Leafs. I think he would be very useful on the fourth line with an offensive guy like Gaudette and a puck mover like Nicolas Aubé-Kubel.

The fourth line is coming together.

Where is Zach Aston-Reese on the first day of the regular season?

Signed and on the third line107
Signed and on the fourth line913
Signed by another team80
Signed and lost on waivers189

How many teams does Aston-Reese play for this season?