Bruins

Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA -- While it doesn’t mean he’s going to develop into a star player quite yet, it seems pretty safe to say people understand a little more clearly now what the fascination was between the Boston Bruins and first-round pick Zach Senyshyn.

The 15th overall pick in the first round was viewed as something of a reach on draft night when most analysts had him rated as a second-round talent, and was an unknown commodity after being an unheralded fourth-line winger on a junior team jam-packed with older, talented kids. So the speedy Sault Ste Marie winger arrived in development camp with a higher level of scrutiny around him than most other young players.

To add to the degree of difficulty, the 18-year-old Senyshyn was also the player selected in the first round with the Calgary first-round pick received in the Dougie Hamilton trade. The speedy, young right wing was viewed as one of the major pieces in a highly controversial trade where Bruins GM Don Sweeney needed to nail the return package for a young franchise defenseman in the making.

So with all of that swirling around the obviously raw talent in Senyshyn, he went out and dominated on Friday’s final day of development camp in the team-wide 4-on-4 scrimmage. He used his breathtaking skating ability and elite speed to fly up and down the wing to create plays, scored a pair of goals and finished with three points in an 8-4 win for his team where offense was created all over the ice by a highly skilled group of young offensive prospects at Ristuccia Arena.

Needless to say, Senyshyn was pretty happy after the eye-opening performance that showed off his first round skill and world class skating wheels.

“It was nice to be able to show what I could do, and go out there and score a couple of goals,” said Senyshyn. “The Bruins showed a lot of belief in my abilities, and I have a lot of belief in my own abilities. It was nice to see their belief in me, and I wanted to show them that they did right by taking me in that spot. And not just by scoring a couple of goals in a game, but also by being really attentive in all of the on-ice sessions during the week.

“I use a lot of stuff to fuel the [motivational] fire. But I was a really underrated guy in my rookie year in the OHL. I know there was a lot of chatter [about being taken in the first round], but I believe in what I can do. The Bruins did right in taking me in that spot for sure, and when people start watching me they’re going to see a guy that’s just scratching the surface, and a guy that’s going to ultimately prove these Boston Bruins right.”

Likewise, Sweeney and the Bruins leave this week’s development camp heartened by what they saw across the board and impressed with how Senyshyn responded to the immediate spotlight put on him after his surprise selection. That shows a high level of character and mental toughness for such a young player above and beyond the high level hockey talent.

“There was a spotlight put on Zachary by earmarking him as the pick of [the Dougie Hamilton trade] that people were excited to see him. I don’t think he disappointed,” said Sweeney. “He’s a really young player with a tremendous upside, and we’re happy to have him and we’re going to work with him from a development standpoint to see him become the player that we want him to be.

“Some of the things I read were that he knew some of the attention that had been thrown his way, but I think any first-rounder sort of feels that. They’re excited one minute, and then they have a barrage of questions thrown their way asking ‘why?’ He’s just a young kid that’s going to go about his business, and you love to see that enthusiasm from a player with talent. To score all those goals in a reduced role for a talented junior team is something that we’re all really excited about.”

Now everybody else is a lot more excited about Senyshyn as well after seeing the talent come to life in a Bruins uniform on the development camp ice. It now becomes more a question of when the youngster can help the Bruins rather than if he was good enough to be taken just 15 players into last night’s NHL Draft in Florida.

That’s a very good development for both the player and the team one month after many were simply wondering how the Bruins could have taken Senyshyn where they did.