Northeastern right wing Zach Aston-Reese’s collegiate career came to an end thanks to consecutive comeback wins by Boston University in the Hockey East Quarterfinals over the weekend.
As it was for his team, it was a frustrating weekend individually for one of the top NHL free agents on the market among seniors in college hockey. He scored a goal and made a few huge hits in the first period Friday night, but had little impact on the rest of the series.
Aston-Reese’s skill set is predicated on his ability to play a heavy game and impact all 200 feet of the ice sheet. He did that best during the first period Friday. His hit on Bobo Carpenter behind the Northeastern net took the Terrier forward out of the series. He also delivered a purposeful hit along the right wing boards just inside the attacking blue line that led to the second goal.
Tracking his shifts over the weekend, it was apparent BU tried to match Aston-Reese's line with the Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson line.
"It's a really good line. It's one of the better lines in Hockey East. It's always a challenge going out against them. If you work hard and try to stay on them and minimize their space and time, it's going to make it harder for them to make offense," Forsbacka Karlsson explained of going up against the Aston-Reese line.
On Friday, he had 21 shifts at even strength (5x5), four power play shifts, five penalty kill shifts and one four-on-four shift.
A night later, he again took 21 shifts at five-on-five, five power play shifts, four penalty kill shifts and one shift with an extra attacker for the Huskies. For shifts beginning with a face-off, 14 began in the neutral zone, 15 in the defensive zone and 13 in the attacking zone.
Aston-Reese concludes his senior season with 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points. He had 162 shots on goal and was +13. He took 32 penalties for 72 minutes. He finished his career with 66 goals and 82 assists for 148 points.
The Staten Island, NY native will almost certainly sign a two-way NHL entry level contract on Monday. Frontrunners are believed to be Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins. However, there are several other teams in the hunt.
Aston-Reese and his agent will likely be looking for a team that is willing to let him burn a year off his entry-level contract this season. It is also a safe bet he'll aim for a team with less forward depth, making it easier to stick with the big team as the difference in salary from NHL to AHL is significant.