(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
If you’ve been following along here at The Scouting Post, then you know we’ve been covering some of the decisions Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is facing at the NHL level this offseason. There’s no shortage of forward prospects knocking at the door to make the jump to the NHL. Some appear to be ready, and some do not. Today, we’ll look at Zachary Senyshyn.
I see a lot of fans on social media penciling Senyshyn into the lineup for the 2017-2018 season, and to that I must say “hold your horses.” Plenty can change between now and September and knowing how much effort Senyshyn puts into preparing himself in the offseason, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a case for himself to be on the varsity squad. Also, the Bruins have some unanswered questions on right wing for the upcoming season and that also plays into Senyshyn’s chances.
But let’s cut to the chase here: All the preparing he can do in the offseason alone won’t make him ready him for the NHL like a year of seasoning in the American Hockey League. In Providence, he can learn the system continue to work on his all-around game and like fellow 2015 draft pick Jake DeBrusk, use that year to be ready for when the 2018-2019 season comes.
The Bruins sent many in the hockey world into shock when they selected Senyshyn with the third of three consecutive first round picks they held in 2015, selecting him 15th overall. While most fans are concentrating on who the Bruins could have selected, or rather, in their opinions, who they should have selected, hockey pundits no sooner than the season following the draft were saying “hold on, maybe the Bruins were onto something here.”
It’s only been a small chapter in a novel that could take a dozen years to write.
The Bruins lacked in the goal scoring department outside of Brad Marchand. We can now add David Pastrnak to the list of talents the team hit on in the draft. The Bruins identified the need for goal scoring and give them credit- they identified their guy early and made their selection, regardless of how it would be judged at the time. And that’s what NHL teams should do it: identify their guy, diligently do their homework on him, and don’t have any second thoughts when they step to the podium to call his name.
It’s that very same approach the Bruins used in 2016 to select Trent Frederic.
Senyshyn is simply a pure goal scorer. Producing offensively began at a very young age for him. During his OHL draft year, he potted 22 goals in 27 games for the Ottawa Senators Minor Midget AAA team, leading the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds to take him 51st overall at the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.
The following season, rather than go directly to the OHL, Senyshyn played for the Smiths Falls Bears of the Central Canada Hockey League (Junior A) to hone his skills, and where I had my first glimpse of him. He got the call to the Greyhounds for 4 games and registered his first OHL goal, assist, and power play goal. You knew even then that he was going to score goals at this level.
The following season Senyshyn would appear in 66 of the Greyhounds 68 games. Playing on a squad that was loaded with talent up front and with the depth that was the envy of many of teams in the OHL, Senyshyn played mostly third and fourth line duties averaging 11 minutes per game. Yet he still managed to pot 26 goals. If there was any doubt he could score at this level, it was answered.
In his second full season, Senyshyn took on a bigger role, that of the Greyhounds sniper. Again, he appeared in 66 games and scored 45 goals. It was a role he cherished and had success with, far and away leading Greyhounds’ teammates Blake Speers and Gabe Guertler, who had 26 apiece in goal scoring.
Coming into this season, Senyshyn wasn’t going to be as dependent upon to provide the offense he did a season ago with the skill and depth the Greyhounds had on their roster.
Last offseason, he had a bout of mononucleosis which affected his offseason training regiment and got him off to a slow start. Before he could get fully up to speed, he had an emergency appendectomy further derailing him. Senyshyn appeared in 59 games on the season and still managed to score 42 goals to lead the Greyhounds once again and finished second in points with 65 despite the setbacks.
Senyshyn represented Team OHL at the CIBC Canada-Russia Super Series, the precursor for Hockey Canada’s selection to represent their country at the World Junior Championships. Despite not being at the top of his game, he got the invite to Team Canada’s camp and was the final cut to the annual tournament.
One of the biggest concerns fans bring to my attention about Senyshyn is the number of assists he “doesn’t” produce. Contrary to popular belief, he is a very good puck distributor. But he has always been and will always be a goal scorer first. That’s what the Bruins selected him to be.
Fans rarely get to see the complete picture. They get to see the highlight reel goals of him busting down the wing, beating defenders wide, going to the net and putting the puck behind a helpless goaltender. As TSP founder Kirk Luedeke has said many of times, “defenders know it’s coming, but they still can’t contain him.”
But being a one-trick pony won’t bring you success at the NHL level. The fact of the matter is that Senyshyn can beat you in multiple ways.
Watch this video and see for yourself:
And this one as well:
We all know Senyshyn is an elite-level skater who can beat defenders wide. He also possesses an NHL shot already. He’s willing to stand in front of the goal and take his licks and knock in rebounds. He plays smart with his stick seemingly always on the ice waiting for the pass. He has subtle little moves that allow for that extra 6-12 inches to get into a lane. Only time will tell how it translates to the NHL.
But for now, a year in the AHL is probably the best thing for him and the Bruins.