The Boston Bruins know they’ll be hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, so over the next two games, they get to give some regulars some rest.
And with that, a couple prospects will get a look at the NHL level.
The Bruins on Wednesday called up Trent Frederic and Zach Senyshyn on an emergency basis, the latter of whom will be making his NHL debut Thursday when the B’s take on the Wild in Minnesota.
Folks who’ve kept an eye on the Bruins this season have seen what Frederic, a bruising bottom-six center at present, is capable of, but Senyshyn is a new face with the big club, save for preseason contests.
So what should you know about Senyshyn?
Well, for one, expectations are pretty high. You might remember the 2015 draft, when the Bruins had first-round pick Nos. 13-15. With those picks, the B’s selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Senyshyn, respectively. The 15th overall pick used on Senyshyn was a somewhat high-profile selection, as the B’s got that pick from the Flames as part of the package that sent Dougie Hamilton to Calgary. Plus, the 16th pick in that draft was Mat Barzal, who has turned into a young star with the New York Islanders.
A prolific scorer when playing juniors in the Ontario Hockey League, Senyshyn has put up modest numbers in two professional seasons, both spent in the AHL up until this point. In 132 games with the Providence Bruins (four playoff contests included), the 22-year-old winger is slashing 26-25-51.
As his numbers would suggest, Senyshyn can be a bit streaky, but he’s proven both in juniors and pros that he does have a nice scoring touch and can be a responsible player in the defensive end.
“I think I can bring a lot of speed,” Senyshyn told reporters after practice Wednesday, via Bruins.com. “Definitely my offensive game I like to bring a lot of power and I like to kind of set the pace of the game, so hopefully I’m able to bring a little of that here.”
With some top players expected to get a little rest, it’s unclear who exactly will dress against the Wild. Senyshyn skated alongside Charlie Coyle on a makeshift two-man fourth line during Wednesday’s practice.
Knowing that nerves can be pretty high for a guy making his NHL debut, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is keeping expectations relatively tempered for Senyshyn.
“I hope he just goes out and plays a solid 200-foot game,” Cassidy said. “He’s a great skater, so put some pressure on the D, make them uncomfortable, attack off the wing. Whatever falls into place from there, we’ll wait and see.”
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of tempos are set in these next two games, as the Wild are out of postseason contention and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who the B’s will play in Saturday’s regular-season finale, likely will be resting players as well. Because of that, the tenor of the games might be a little different than if they were earlier in the season or against teams that still have something to play for.
Nevertheless, Senyshyn’s NHL debut long has been more of a “when not if” situation. And with so many prospects getting chances in the top flight this season, we’ll have to see if Senyshyn can get the attention of the coaches and leave a lasting impression.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images