Bruins prospect Zach Senyshyn to make long-awaited NHL debut vs. Wild


Bruins prospect Zach Senyshyn to make long-awaited NHL debut vs. Wild

The Boston Bruins' 2015 draft has mostly been a failure.

Rising star Jake DeBrusk, who Boston selected 14th overall that year, has been the lone bright spot from a draft where the B's had three consecutive first-round picks (Nos. 13-15) and four second-round picks. In fairness to Brandon Carlo, he's had a nice NHL career, but he's not an impact player for Boston.

The Bruins selected 10 players in the 2015 draft and only DeBrusk and Carlo have played more than 30 NHL games.

One of the players the Bruins took in Round 1 was forward Zach Senyshyn at No. 15. It was a reach at the time, as many experts didn't predict him to even be selected in the first round. Senyshyn played well in the OHL but has struggled with the AHL's Providence Bruins over the last two seasons. Senyshyn has scored just 26 goals in 126 career AHL games.

Nevertheless, he is expected to make his NHL debut Thursday night when the B's take on the Minnesota Wild on the road.

"Obviously I'm really excited and just trying to soak it all in right now ... it was a great call," Senyshyn told reporters, via the team's website. "Was really excited to get here and join the team. A great group of guys."

He later added: "I was a little bit more raw last year. I definitely had to fine tune a couple things and really round out my game. I feel like with a lot of help from my coaches down in Providence that it's gotten a lot better. I still hope to grow and take my game to the next level with a little bit of experience up here."

This is a huge opportunity for Senyshyn. He'll probably play the last two games of the regular season, and even though Boston and neither of its final opponents have anything to play for, evaluating how the young forward adapts to the speed and physicality of the NHL game will be good for the Bruins. 

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Bruce Cassidy 'thinks it all comes back quickly' for Bruins if NHL returns

Bruce Cassidy 'thinks it all comes back quickly' for Bruins if NHL returns

The Boston Bruins last played competitive hockey on Tuesday, March 10, a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Shortly after that, the NHL suspended operations amid the global coronavirus pandemic. And at this point in time, it's unclear when -- or if -- the league will resume the 2020 season.

But Bruce Cassidy isn't letting that bother him too much. The Bruins head coach knows that the decision is out of his control, but the team's potential is what's keeping him motivated as the suspension drags on.

"We’re not done. We have a lot left in us. A good team, a good chance to win a Stanley Cup and that’s what motivates me," Cassidy said, per The Athletic's Joe McDonald. "The powers that be will decide that down the road and hopefully we get our opportunity."

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And if the Bruins do get that chance, Cassidy doesn't expect it to take long for the team to get back in the swing of things.

"Once we get together I think it all comes back quickly," Cassidy said. "We’ve all been through this for a long time, so for us getting back into work mode will be an easy transition."

The B's are a veteran-laden team, so the time off may benefit them more as they get fully healthy and recover from a long NHL season. Still, it's worth wondering how long it may take for them to get their legs underneath them if the season does start up again.

But given their torrid start to the season, in which they scored points in 13 of 14 games after playing into the summer in the battle for a Stanley Cup, they should have a good chance to come out well-rested and ready to go as Cassidy expects.

That said, there's no timetable on a potential return for the NHL. And until then, the B's will have to wait and mentally prepare for what will hopefully another long summer of hockey.

NHL looking at sites like North Dakota, New Hampshire for summer playoffs

NHL looking at sites like North Dakota, New Hampshire for summer playoffs

The NHL may be forced into some creative solutions if they want to cap off the suspended 2019-20 regular season with Stanley Cup Playoffs this summer, and those kinds of plans-on-the-fly are being assembled by the league on a daily basis.

One of the more interesting plans is to hold the playoff games at designated neutral locations across the U.S. and have multiple games played Olympics-style in those empty arenas. According to reports, Grand Forks, North Dakota and Manchester, New Hampshire are a pair of sites that have been mentioned as possibilities this summer if the NHL can push for playoff games made for television without any fans in the stands.

It’s all theoretical in nature right now, of course, and could change on a daily basis as with everything else dependent on how things play out from an all-important health standpoint.

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Both North Dakota and Manchester are regular hosts in the NCAA hockey tournament, so they are at least accustomed to host larger multiple-game tournaments. That's part of what makes them ideal settings along with being lower-populated areas away from the coronavirus hot spots in the country.

There are plenty of hurdles to jump over, obviously.

All players, officials and coaches would need to be tested prior to the games being played to make certain the virus couldn’t spread and would need to essentially be quarantined for months while the playoffs roll out in these neutral sites. There is motivation to get this done, however, for multiple reasons.

The NHL obviously wants a playoff conclusion to the current season that could be ideally played out over the summer, and then plans could be made for something close to a full 2020-21 NHL regular season perhaps beginning in November.

Gary Bettman and the rest of North America’s sports commissioners and organizers sat in on a conference call with President Donald Trump over the weekend where the message seemed to be that the White House would like sports back sooner rather than later as the country aspires to get back to normalcy.

“[The sports leagues] want to get back," said Trump during a press briefing later on Saturday. "They've got to get back. They can't do this. Their sports weren't designed for it. The whole concept of our nation wasn't designed for it. We have to get back. We want to get back soon."

All that being said, the return of any sports is not going to happen unless there is massive improvement over the next month as social distancing and self-quarantining are utilized nationally to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported last weekend that the NBA is also considering its usual summer home of Las Vegas as a centralized setting for their potential playoffs this summer as well.

The good news is that there are still very vibrant, creative plans for playoff hockey this summer, so the hope is still very much alive that we’ll see NHL players doing their thing a few months from now.