By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73
It feels like Zach Senyshyn has been in the Bruins organization forever. The last of three first-round picks made by the Bruins in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Senyshyn was also the last of the group to earn a call to show what he can do on the NHL level. Although, like Senyshyn, draft classmate Jakub Zboril has seen very little time with the big club, Zboril’s chance came a bit sooner than Senyshyn’s. The other 2015 first-rounder, Jake DeBrusk, is entering his third season in Boston.
As far as Senyshyn is concerned, his biggest chance to make a name for himself so far came at the end of the 2018-2019 season, after the Bruins had clinched a playoff spot and were looking for options to rest the team’s stars and keep them healthy for the postseason. His first NHL goal was scored in that brief stint, but even that milestone was an inauspicious one for the 22-year-old winger. Senyshyn scored an empty-netter in the waning minutes of a game against the Minnesota Wild.
Still, it was a goal, scored in the NHL with his parents on-hand. And, it should not be overshadowed by the fact that Senyshyn seemed to relish his opportunity to show the Bruins’ brass what he can do. He approached his brief time in the NHL with poise, not letting the moment or his nerves get the better of him, and had a few quality chances and made an impact when he was on the ice.
That being said, big questions remain as to whether Senyshyn is ready and able to break into the NHL roster for the beginning of the 2019-2020 season. As part of the seemingly constant debate on who should play on David Krejci’s right wing, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did offer some hope earlier this summer that Senyshyn could be thrown into the mix.
Much of Senyshyn’s future in the Bruins organization will depend on what role the coaches and front office want him to fill. If he is relegated to the hard-minutes, grinder role that it seems Providence coach Jay Leach would like to see from the Ottawa native, that could make “Senny’s” road to the NHL a bit bumpier. The Bruins have stocked up on bottom-six players in the past couple of years, all while already boasting arguably the best fourth line in the league.
With Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, veteran David Backes and newcomer Brett Ritchie already providing Boston with hard-hitting options for those roles, and, perhaps most importantly to Senyshyn’s future, with several years of NHL experience already under their belts, it seems unlikely Senyshyn will break through that way unless an injury bug hits the team’s third and fourth lines.
How Sweeney sees Senyshyn potentially fitting into the search for a reliable second-line right ring, be it as a player that could slot into that position himself or a replacement for Danton Heinen or another player who would be moved there, remains to be seen. Senyshyn certainly has the speed to make an impact somewhere in the middle of the lineup, as well as the physical skill to make him an asset further down in the mix.
Although he is moving into the fifth season since being drafted by the Bruins, Senyshyn chose to return to the Ontario Hockey League for a couple of years after he was drafted and has actually only played two full seasons in Providence. In that time, he has racked up a total of 50 points. His points total fell slightly to 24 in the 2018-2019 season from 26 the year before, but he potted more goals this past season, with 14, compared to 12 the previous season.
Of course, a third season in Providence, at least to start the upcoming campaign, could only help Senyshyn’s development. However, he is coming into the final year of his entry-level contract. With restricted free agency looming, this season may be Senyshyn’s last chance, whether in camp or during a call-up, to prove that he deserves to stay in Boston for the long haul.