Zach Aston-Reese potentially joining the Maple Leafs makes a lot of sense

There’s no shortage of rumours surrounding the Maple Leafs with less than 24 hours until NHL Free Agency begins.
Among reports on Tuesday was Elliotte Friedman discussing what Toronto might do when the gates open at noon on Wednesday. He talked about Rasmus Sandin re-signing, Denis Malgin (yes, you heard that right), and the potential of Zach Aston-Reese potentially joining the Maple Leafs.
Tuesday Rumour Report: Sandin and goaltending remain the priority, Aston-Reese looking like a lock, and “Malgin?”
Every ounce of these rumours continue to gain my interest, but I do want to dive into Aston-Reese a bit because, well, it’s always intriguing to see what a player outside of the organization might bring.
First of, let’s be clear that Aston-Reese isn’t a point-getter and won’t turn into that if he joins Toronto either. Instead of points, the 27-year-old will bring hits to the Maple Leafs.
Wayne Simmonds had the most hits on Toronto last season, laying the body 148 times across 72 games. Aston-Reese, who spent time with Pittsburgh and Anaheim last year, threw 231 hits (!!!) in just 69 games played. So, it’s safe to say he’s a heavy hitter.
There’s only been two seasons where the 27-year-old didn’t have over 100 hits — his rookie year and the 56-game season back in 2021 (he had 95 in 45 games that year).
Aside from his hitting capabilities, Aston-Reese is a defensive specialist who can neutralize play in his own team’s zone. He won’t give you the greatest offensive productio …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Tuesday Rumour Report: Sandin and goaltending remain the priority, Aston-Reese looking like a lock, and “Malgin?”

It’s the home stretch of rumours and speculation and we’re a day from signing and trade announcements. That’s a bit of a relief. Soon we can stop guessing at who fits into the Leafs roster and instead spend the next couple of months creating Leafs line combinations in notes on our phone while sitting on the toilet (maybe that’s an oddly specific trait of mine that isn’t a universal experience.)
Anyways, Elliotte Friedman had a fair bit of Leafs information crammed into a tiny paragraph today, so we’re going to blow it up and turn it into a lot more.
Toronto will look for another goalie and try to sign Rasmus Sandin with their remaining cap room. One team indicated that even 1B or No. 2 goalies could still do very well in this market, so it won’t be as easy as it sounds. One potential depth target for the Maple Leafs: forechecker extraordinaire Zach Aston-Reese. They could also bring back Denis Malgin from Switzerland.
It really doesn’t feel like we can say a lot more on the first two things. The importance of getting Sandin figured out and fast is painfully clear. Having nothing to show for Sandin but a second round pick would be disastrous, but so would be paying a ransom for his contract. He’s kinda backed the Leafs into a corner and we’ve seen t …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation