PITTSBURGH, PA – FEBRUARY 17: Zach Aston-Reese #46 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 17, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled Zach Aston-Reese from the Wilks-Barre/Scranton Penguins. After suffering an ugly injury last year during the playoffs, Aston-Reese recovered and has been thriving ever since. Now it’s time for the young star to secure his place in the NHL.

Zach Aston-Reese Shines in AHL

After appearing in nine games, the young forwards playoff run with the Penguins ended abruptly last season. Aston-Reese found himself on the receiving end of a high hit from the Washington Capitals Tom Wilson. He suffered a broken jaw and a concussion. Ashton-Reese dealt with the injuries during the post-season and was ready to go for training camp this summer. The rookie had an average preseason run but ultimately was sent to the AHL when the team finalized their roster.

Aston-Reese is currently in the second season of a two-way deal that enables him to go between the NHL and AHL while avoiding waivers. Before his injury, Aston-Reese was skating on Sidney Crosby‘s line. He was reliable on the defensive side of play and had a level of physicality to his game that Pittsburgh valued. Post-injury, it seemed like he was more skittish than he once was. His production fell short during the preseason. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan sent him to the AHL to regain his confidence, and that’s precisely what he did.

Since arriving in the AHL, Aston-Reese has been a driving force for the WBS Penguins. He placed third in scoring after 11 appearances with the team and currently owns six goals and three assists for nine points. He’s been hitting his stride, netting the first hat trick of the season in a November fourth contest against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The WBS Penguins are currently third in their division, with a 6-4 record.

Aston-Reese and His Future in the NHL

Coach Sullivan has been mixing his lines up as of late, hoping to light a fire under his team. With Derick Brassard still absent due to a lower-body injury, having Aston-Reese back in the lineup will relieve some pressure. Bringing him back while he’s in the middle of a hot streak, well that’s just a bonus.

Aston-Reese had just begun to find his groove with the Penguins before his injury last season. The rookie player was skating on Crosby’s line and was holding his own. He’s also shown that he’s got chemistry with both Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin during training camp. There’s no question Aston-Reese has his confidence back. Now he needs to translate that at the NHL level once again.  With his proven puck control and naturally defensive mindset, Aston-Reese could be an immeasurable asset in a moment where Pittsburgh is desiring some consistency and exhilaration.

PITTSBURGH, PA – FEBRUARY 17: Zach Aston-Reese #46 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 17, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)


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