Zach Aston-Reese has no contract for the 2022–23 Nationwide Hockey League season.
The 28-year-old ahead intends to serve on the Maple Leafs’ payroll till coaching camp is over.
“The coaches and employees have made it clear that spots can be found, so I am simply going to take my bag off and attempt to earn a spot,” Aston-Reese mentioned Thursday at an expert tryout camp. First day of an icy exercise on the Ford Efficiency Middle.
“There have been a couple of choices, however it got here all the way down to the place one of the best alternative was for me, and I feel Toronto was a fantastic place for that.”
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe has a handful of prospects for his group of bottom-six forwards. And there will likely be an opportunity for a few of these gamers to probably make extra of an influence within the lineup.
Third row middle David Kampf will likely be instrumental in his function once more, however different locations stay fairly open. Keefe indicated that there is no such thing as a loss for Aston-Reese, a defensively accountable veteran of 230 NHL video games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Geese, during which he’s competing with no contract.
“That is the character of what is taking place within the league,” Keefe mentioned. “Through the years, there are specific folks from whom you anticipate jobs and safety and it isn’t.
“It labored to our benefit. He is the sort of man we had been excited by as a result of going free company, after which simply ran out of cash.
“It’s a good factor for us to have him right here and within the combine. He has include a extremely good angle. So far as I am involved, the way in which (normal supervisor) Kyle (Dubas) has informed me is that everybody right here is an possibility for me and our workforce.
Calle Jarnrock, in the meantime, skated to the fitting in Mitch Marner’s traditional spot with Austen Matthews and Michael Bunting, whereas Adam Gaudet was on the left with captain John Tavares and Marner. Dennis Malgin was in a row with William Nylander and Pontus Holmberg.
Not essentially the locations the place Jarnrock, Gaudet and Malgin line up as soon as the common season begins, however Keefe desires to ship Gamers with a few of their potential depth leap out of the gate.
“I do not know if there’s a greater technique to come to a brand new workforce and really feel part of issues,” Keefe mentioned completely of Jarnrock. “He has the talent set to have the ability to play with both Austin or John. He might have performed anyplace in our lineup.
“Gaudette is somebody we wish to give a very good likelihood with good gamers. We predict he can actually rating. We’d like some guys to return in and pop, if you’ll, No totally different from the way in which Bunts did final yr. We see Gaudette as a candidate to make it occur.”
In his first media availability in Toronto since signing a four-year contract in July, Jarnrock was pumped within the wake of his first official skate with the Leafs.
“I feel they’ve one thing good happening right here,” Jarnrock mentioned. “I needed to be part of it and that is a giant cause why I got here right here.
“I can deliver a little bit little bit of every part. No matter they want from me, I am able to do it.”
Aston-Reese are of the identical thoughts. To an extent.
“I do not suppose I’ve to hold a person, go coast to coast and rating each recreation,” Aston-Reese mentioned. “I feel I am right here for a particular cause, that is so as to add a little bit depth. They need me to bodily play and play my half, so that is what I plan to do.”
And, no, Aston-Reese would not view his camp participation as auditioning for one more membership, regardless of the truth that the Leafs might should do some maneuvering underneath the hat to signal him.
“I feel I am a loyal man,” Aston-Reese mentioned. “So I hope (transferring to a different workforce) is not within the playing cards for me.”