When Zach Senyshyn makes his NHL debut Thursday on an emergency recall, he’ll get a chance to prove all of his critics wrong.
When the Boston Bruins selected Senyshyn with 15th selection (their third consecutive pick) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the response was anything but positive. With players like Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Brock Boeser still available, Senyshyn being taken where he was in the draft became a never-ending topic of discussion.
To make matters worse, as of this season, only two players from the first round of the 2015 Draft Class have yet to play in an NHL game. One of those players is Ilya Samsonov who, up until this season, was under contract in the KHL. The other? None other than Senyshyn.
At 22 years old, Senyshyn’s point totals simply don’t jump off the page as a first-round selection who scored 40-plus goals and 65 points in each of his final two seasons with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL.
In his debut season in Providence in 2017-18, Senyshyn would score 12 goals and 26 points in 66 games. He’d follow that up with 14 goals and 24 points in 62 games this season, his second in the AHL.
Numbers aren’t everything, however, and the pure statistics alone fail to acknowledge that Senyshyn wasn’t being used in a scoring role in the AHL.
Senyshyn is Capable of More Than the Stats Indicate
Rather than playing him in a top-six role with consistent power play time, the Bruins opted to bolster Senyshyn’s two-way ability and accountability in his own zone. Because of this, he’s played primarily in a bottom-six and middle-six role throughout his professional career thus far.
For anybody who’s actually watched Senyshyn play, however, it’s clear that he’s more than a bottom-six contributor and he’s certainly capable of more than 26 goals over two seasons.
With speed to burn and a willingness to use his size and skill, Senyshyn has everything it takes to be a contributor at the next level. His ceiling remains a top-six scoring winger despite what the stats indicate. Now that he’s focused on adding a 200-foot element to his game, a necessary trait for players in the Bruins’ system, the Ottawa-native could turn some heads during his emergency recall.
He wouldn’t be the first player to change the opinion of Bruins’ fans.
Senyshyn Can Draw Career Parallels to Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand
While it isn’t fair to compare Senyshyn to players like Brad Marchand or Jake DeBrusk, it seems fair to compare
DeBrusk was also criticized by Bruins’ fans and media alike given the talent that was available on the draft board. Fast-forward to DeBrusk’s 2016-17 season, his first in the AHL that saw him score 19 goals and 49 points in 74 games. For many, these totals weren’t indicative of a goal-scoring first-round talent.
Still, he’d score 16 goals and 43 points in 70 games in his rookie season in the NHL a year later and would follow it up with six goals and eight points in 12 postseason games, becoming a fan-favorite in the process.
He’d follow that up with a season that many are calling a “sophomore slump” given some inconsistencies in his game. A sophomore slump that has seen him score 27 goals and 41 points in just 66 games.
Interestingly enough, DeBrusk went through a similar path as Senyshyn as he would sacrifice some goal scoring and point production in his final season in the WHL and first season in the AHL while learning a more balanced 200-foot game.
Marchand, another fan-favorite in Boston who also happens to have scored 100 points this season, was also pegged as a fourth-line contributor at best at the NHL level roughly one decade ago.
In his first NHL game on Oct. 21 of 2009, Marchand would record an assist in 14:42 of ice time. His next point would come almost one full year later on Oct. 16 of 2010, 22 games later. His first goal wouldn’t come until his 29th game in the NHL.
Playing on the Bruins’ fourth line and being forced to work his way up the lineup, Marchand would eventually score 21 goals and 41 points in his rookie season and followed that up with 11 goals and 19 points in 25 postseason games, helping the Bruins capture their first Stanley Cup since 1972.
Senyshyn isn’t DeBrusk and he definitely isn’t Marchand. Still, it feels like there’s a common trend in the NHL that’s seen players get typecasted or prejudged without even giving them a chance to prove themselves.
Related: Bruins 2018-19 Prospect Pyramid
Senyshyn hasn’t played a single NHL game and many of those who claim he’s a “bust” because of this haven’t watched him play a single game in the AHL. It doesn’t seem very fair to judge a player without having watched them, but the Bruins have watched him and are rewarding him with an opportunity to prove everybody wrong.