It’s got to be frustrating for Zach Senyshyn to watch as the Boston Bruins cycle through considerable right wing injuries without him getting a call to the NHL hockey club.
So many members of his 2015 NHL Draft class are up in Boston now with Jake DeBrusk, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Brandon Carlo all playing for the Bruins, and the B’s are clearly in need of wingers with Ondrej Kase, DeBrusk and Jack Studnicka all banged up physically right now. An easy argument could be made that the Bruins wouldn’t have a carousel on David Krejci’s right wing if Senyshyn had developed into what the B’s thought he was going to be, or if they’d simply drafted one of a number of top-6 NHL forwards from the 2015 draft class.
The 23-year-old Senyshyn, though, is preparing for the AHL season opener for the Providence Bruins and expected to take a step up for the P-Bruins while staying on the NHL radar.
Senyshyn had seven goals and 16 points in 42 games with the P-Bruins last season and a couple assists in a cup of coffee with Boston, but the 33 goals and 66 points in 174 career AHL games really doesn’t stand out all that much for a first round pick.
With that in mind, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound Senyshyn focused on getting bigger, stronger and more assertive around the net during the offseason, qualities he’ll need if he’s ever going to live up to anything close to the Chris Kreider comparisons when he was drafted six years ago.
“[His attitude has] been outstanding. I think he had a really good offseason. He went to work. He changed up his group that he works out with in Ottawa, and he really put a focus and emphasis on getting stronger and wanting to finish around the net. He’s matured. He’s a bit older,” said Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach of Senyshyn, who talent evaluators thought pretty clearly needed to up his physicality to compete at the AHL level. “I’m sure there’s frustration if there are other guys in front of him up there [in Boston], but I can’t say I’ve seen much of that here with Senny.
“All I’ve seen is a lot of enthusiasm and effort. I don’t want to speak for him, but my take is that he’s just waiting for his opportunity. He’s certainly come a long way, but he’s always had that attitude with us. Over time we’ve really grown to appreciate him and his attitude, and we’re excited to see him get going and hopefully climb that ladder.”
Watching Zboril play well for the Bruins this season at the NHL level is a good lesson that prospects mature into NHL players at different rates of time.
The current circumstances, though, should be at the very least a wakeup call for any prospect when a younger guy, and a natural center, like the 21-year-old Studnicka is ahead on the winger depth chart, or an undrafted, hard-working player like Karson Kuhlman continues to get reps on the second line right wing as well.
Perhaps some of the concern about pushing Senyshyn up to Boston is losing him on waivers during the taxi squad process, but much more would appear to be the need for him to force the Bruins hand into using him in Boston at this point. Senyshyn is going to need to dominate the AHL in a way he hasn’t at this point given his size, speed and talent combination, and given the back-to-back 40-goal seasons he had with the Soo Greyhounds during his junior hockey days.
The good news is that Senyshyn seems to understand what he needs to do to be a better pro player for the Bruins organization, and that the 2015 NHL Draft doesn’t seem quite so dire for the Bruins with Zboril and DeBrusk both contributing at the NHL level. But there is still work to be done if Senyshyn ever hopes to avoid the “bust” label as a first round pick in a draft where the Bruins passed over Mat Barzal, Kyle Connor, Travis Konecny, Brock Boeser and others to select the young Senyshyn out of Ottawa.
Senyshyn has to hope that day comes for him just as it’s happening for Zboril this season after a couple of development years at the AHL level.