By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Zach Senyshyn is known for his speed on the ice, and there’s a chance that attribute will help him get to the NHL more quickly.
The former Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) forward began flaunting his Flash-like skating on the first day of Bruins development camp at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday. The camp runs until Sunday and is an opportunity for someone like the 20-year-old, who should at least be a regular with Providence (AHL) this season, to gain some momentum before returning for training camp in the fall.
Senyshyn already got a taste of pro hockey when he joined the P-Bruins during their run in the Calder Cup playoffs in the spring. He didn’t have a point in four games.
“It’s a big jump. As much as everyone tells you that, it’s another thing to experience it,” Senyshyn said. “To be able to play in the conference finals in the AHL playoffs, it’s a big experience, it’s a big jump. So it’s one I really enjoyed, I felt really good about my play there. I’m really looking forward to next season.”
When the Bruins drafted Senyshyn with the 15th overall pick in 2015, he was coming off a 45-point season. Some claimed the Bruins reached for the speedster, but the organization was confident his expanding role in junior would lead to more production at that level and then a major contribution as a pro. Senyshyn responded with back-to-back 65-point seasons.
Maybe the camp participant most likely to crack the NHL lineup in October is forward Anders Bjork, who left Notre Dame early this offseason to sign with the Bruins. But he won’t be in attendance until Saturday because of a family commitment, so Senyshyn sort of has the stage to himself in terms of showing off NHL-ready offensive skills.
The Bruins, though, aren’t going to rush him.
“I think he understands that part of when to go, when not to. In Providence … I think he had three breakaways in the [four] games he played,” Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said. “He has the ability to get by D. It’s just going to be learning to play and learning to play the rest of the time without the puck, which is normal for a young kid, especially a young kid that can score goals in junior hockey. They develop some of those habits that pro hockey will fix real quick.”
Senyshyn may seem like a candidate, like fellow 2015 first-round pick Jake Debrusk last season, to spend an entire year in the AHL to round out his game. But a handful of players over the years have made the jump from development camp to the NHL roster on their first try after turning pro and they all had at least one unique talent the Bruins needed. Senyshyn’s wheels may be the key to forcing coach Bruce Cassidy’s hand, if the right-shooting forward can show enough growth in other areas to not be a detriment for the Bruins.
“I had a great time in Providence at the end of last season. It’s all about developing and getting better and focusing on this next season. This is a big development opportunity for me,” he said.
It’s a great opportunity to develop and speed up that process by doing the right things.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.