22-year-old goalie Gilles Senn is a little older than your average prospect, but the New Jersey Devils saw something that they liked in the Swiss goaltender and made him their fifth-round pick at the 2017 NHL Draft. Who knows, maybe they noticed him over there while scouting another player from Switzerland (Nico Hischier). Regardless, they took a chance on the lanky goaltender (6-foot-5, 192 pounds) and now in his second year with the Devils organization Senn is becoming more comfortable and learning what he needs to do to take his game to the next level as he finishes out his time with HC Davos in the Swiss National League.
We caught up with the easygoing, soft-spoken goaltender at his second Development Camp in New Jersey to get an idea of where he feels he’s at in his development, who some of his favorite goalies are, and how big of a deal his fellow countryman, that kid Nico Hischier, is back home, as well as some other topics.
The Hockey Writers: This is your second Development Camp with the Devils, what are some of the differences for you this time around?
Gilles Senn: Last year everything was new to me and I was a little bit shy, didn’t know many people. But I know how things work here now, even though they made some changes to the camp. Some more fun stuff and more time to get to know one another; I really enjoy being here.
THW: A lot of fans here in North America didn’t get to see much of you, what can you tell us about how your season with HC Davos was?
GS: It was a tough season. We had a young core and we had to adjust to that situation. I think at the end of the season we got better, and we made the playoffs. I think we made some progress for next season.
THW: Who are some of your favorite goalies?
GS: When I was young it was Marco Bührer from Switzerland or (Leonardo) Genoni, who I played with also. Here in the NHL, it’s Pekka Rinne, he’s my favorite goalie, he’s the same height as me.
THW: What are some things that you think you need to work on or that the coaching staff here has asked you to work on so you can take your game to the next level?
GS: I think getting used to playing on the small ice rinks here, changing the angles, switching my positioning, and getting better at post work. Those are some of the things that they told me to do.
THW: Today you played in a bunch of three-on-three games here at Development Camp, honestly I don’t think they are very fair for the goalies, but you had fun out there today, right?
GS: Yeah (laughs), you just try to compete here and make it tough for the forwards and challenge them.
THW: So back home in Switzerland this Nico Hischier kid on the Devils is kind of a big deal huh?
GS: Oh yeah! I played with him when I was younger, maybe 12 or 13-years-old. Now he’s a big star when he comes home, I was talking to him about being in the newspapers this summer. But yeah, he’s a big deal in Switzerland.
THW: So when he scores a goal or does something really good over here it’s all over the news back home? Do you keep in contact with him during the season?
GS: Yep. I congratulated him last year when he played his first game, got his first points. We kept in touch last season. You can read it in every newspaper when he scores (smiles), that’s the biggest thing that can happen. Now also his brother (23-year-old Luca Hischier) plays on the same team as me.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.