Northeastern University senior left wing Zach Aston-Reese has signed a two-way entry level NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's a two-year contract that kicks in at the start of the 2017-18 season. He will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on an ATO for the remainder of this season.
The Staten Island, NY native had a monster final season of college hockey, scoring 31 goals and 32 assists in 38 games played. What makes his season even more impressive is that he did it without his regular linemates for much of the year.
Known as more of a defensive forward during his first two seasons, he had a breakout season as a junior, helping the Huskies win the Hockey East Tournament Championship for the first time since 1988. He finishes his collegiate career with 66 goals and 88 assists in 145 games.
While Aston-Reese put up quite the offensive numbers during his senior season, he projects as a bottom six forward going forward. He’s a player who will be heavy on pucks, kill penalties and grind in the dirty areas. He’s not afraid to be physical and he’s a puck hound in all 200 feet of the ice.
"He plays 200 feet. He’s a hard guy to play against because he plays both ends of the rink. His habits and details are tremendous for a kid who is a senior in college. He does everything the right way. He does it in practice. He kills penalties. He’s used in every situation," Northeastern coach Jim Madigan complimented after a game earlier in the season.
Madigan, who was an amateur scout for the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins prior to returning to the bench of his alma mater, had high praise in terms of his pro future.
"I spent some time at that level watching free agents for the Islanders and Penguins. If he’s not the best college free agent, I haven’t seen who’s better than him," said Madigan.