TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on Monday that the Red Wings are among six teams that have expressed significant interest in NCAA free agent forward Zach Aston-Reese:
PIT, EDM, VAN, SJ, LA, DET in on one of them (Aston-Reese); BUF, DAL, NJ, COL in on the other (Bayreuther).— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 13, 2017
Aston-Reese had an extremely impressive season with Northeastern University — notching 63 points in 38 games (31-32-63), making him one of the top NHL free agents on the market among those in college hockey.
Aston-Reese was a workhorse for Northeastern, logging time in all situations, and playing a well-refined 200-foot game, as well as adding some heavy play along the boards. The six-foot, 190-pounder from Staten Island is also touted for throwing his weight around to his advantage.
So, the numbers look great. The reviews of Aston-Reese’s play are up to par, but is he a fit in the Red Wings’ organization? Quick answer — not really. It has nothing to do with him as a player, but more so the jam of forwards the Wings have from top to bottom on the books.
Aston-Reese will likely seek out a team willing to burn a year of his ELC so that he can get time in the NHL right away. The Red Wings did unload some contracts at the trade deadline, making some room for a depth bottom-six player like Aston-Reese, but their tendencies to scratch younger players could put a potential ding in their reputation with college free agents.
If you can recall back in August, Ansar Khan reported that the Wings made a pitch for free agent Jimmy Vesey, but they failed to make the short list, so my hopes of landing Aston-Reese are extremely low.
All-in-all, Aston-Reese would be a great bottom-six pickup for the Wings, adding some edge, skill, and depth to a team in need of staying the course with the youth movement. It’s said to be a strong class of college free agents, and the Red Wings will certainly be kicking the tires, but odds are their haul could be underwhelming.