Why Zach Senyshyn has a good chance of cracking Bruins roster in 2021

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Just a day after signing another one of their RFA forwards in Karson Kuhlman, the Bruins inked another young forward to a new contract — as Boston announced Wednesday afternoon that it signed Zach Senyshyn to a one-year, two-way contract with an annual cap hit of $700,000 up at the NHL level.

Senyshyn, one of Boston's three first-round picks from that infamous 2015 NHL Draft, primarily played down in Providence during the 2019-20 season, scoring seven goals and posting nine assists for 16 points over 42 games with the Baby B's. Senyshyn, who developed into a talented sniper during his tenure with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, has spent most of the previous three seasons in the AHL, scoring 33 goals and recording 66 points in 174 games with Providence.

The 23-year-old forward also appeared up in four games with Boston back in November 2019, recording two points during that call-up before injuries ended a pretty encouraging stint up in the pro ranks.

With Senyshyn, Kuhlman and Matt Grzelcyk all signed in the span of five days, Boston only has one more restricted free agent to tend to in Jake DeBrusk.

BSJ Analysis: 

It can be tough to map out just where a player like Senyshyn fits on Boston's roster when looking ahead at the 2021 season. No, he's not the top-six winger he was in the OHL, in which his plus speed and quick shot helped him to light the lamp 114 times in 195 games with the Greyhounds. Still, it'd be unwise to completely write off Senyshyn's ability to be a contributor at the NHL level, even if expectations will have to tempered when comparing his current ceiling to his lofty positioning on the 2015 Draft boards.

With his speed and size (6-foot-1, 192 pounds), Senyshyn could be a regular contributor on a bottom-six unit, with the winger making strides over the last few seasons in Providence when it comes to refine a more effective, north-south game against AHL competition.

"We were very excited for where Zach was going the last five, six weeks,” Providence head coach Jay Leach said of Senyshyn's game back in May. “I think we’ve talked about Seny quite a bit and sometimes I think, our staff included, you tend to forget how young some of these players are. He’s just turning 23. Players develop in different ways and in different timetables and Seny found a home with (Brendan) Gaunce and (Brendan) Woods. They were really an up-and-down line that could could do a lot of things. They had some speed with Seny and Woody and then Gaunce was able to compliment them with with some heady play. Seny was starting to score and he was getting to the dirty areas and they were a heavy forechecking line. For me, he was finding an identity.

"But I think we all would somewhat speculate that that was his identity — being a big guy that can get to places quick and obviously get to the front of the net and get those opportunities. It seemed like he was really starting to put it together down the last, like I said, five or six weeks. So what did I see? I saw speed, I saw willingness to get to the net. I saw willingness to be an F1 on the forecheck. And then with that came some offensive opportunities and he started to cash in a bit. I know it’s tough, it’s his third year of pro and I think people tend to — I get it, it’s professional hockey and there’s expectation there — but in our mind and in Seny’s mind, he’s exactly where he is and needs to be and he’s starting to really develop.”

As we noted last week, for as much as Senyshyn remains a polarizing figure to some Bruins fans, don't be surprised if the winger (barring an ugly, ugly training camp) actually manages to crack Boston's roster once the 2021 regular season begins (whenever that is). Why?