Another player has avoided the dreaded arbitration hearing, as Zach Aston-Reese signs a one-year, $1.725MM contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Aston-Reese’s hearing was scheduled for August 23, but will no longer be required. GM Ron Hextall released a short statement on the deal:
Zach is a versatile forward that brings energy and edge to our lineup. He is a responsible, two-way player and we’re glad we were able to re-sign him.
One of 17 players to file for salary arbitration, Aston-Reese is already the fourth to settle before a hearing happens. The arbitration process is not a rewarding one, so teams and players almost often try to avoid it if possible. In this case, Aston-Reese is settling for a raise of just $725K over the salary he’s earned in each of the last two seasons.
An undrafted free agent signing out of Northeastern University, the 26-year-old Aston-Reese has proven to be a versatile player for the Penguins, moving up and down the lineup as needed. He’s not a top scoring threat by any means but did still chip in nine goals in 45 games this season. In 161 games overall, he has 27 goals and 51 points. Those numbers wouldn’t have helped him much in arbitration, which often focuses on counting stats over other contributions.
Still, he gets a slight raise and will now walk directly into unrestricted free agency next summer. Aston-Reese will turn 27 in just a few days and still figures into the Penguins lineup, though where exactly he fits isn’t clear. The team now has 13 forwards on one-way contracts, including nine being paid more than his $1.725MM. Even though the team lost Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev through the expansion process, things are still pretty crowded for the Penguins upfront.
Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff broke the news on Twitter