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As Boston Bruins rookies finished up their long weekend in Buffalo, in a tournament with prospects from the Sabres and New Jersey Devils, 2015 first-round draft pick Zach Senyshyn
made his long-awaited return to Boston and skated in a captain’s practice. For some, it’s a footnote. But for Senyshyn, the 15th overall pick from 2015, it was -- finally -- a step in the right direction.
It’s undoubtedly been a bummer summer for the 19-year-old winger. On the heels of a breakthrough, 45-goal year for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Ontario Hockey League), Senyshyn was forced to miss what would have been his second trip to Boston’s annual development camp with a bout of mononucleosis, and then missed the aforementioned prospect tournament after an appendectomy just two days before Senyshyn planned to travel to Boston.
"It wasn't anything I could have really avoided," Senyshyn said of the appendectomy. "I played a game that night, actually. I was with my OHL club, and I went home and went to bed. And I ended up getting this sharp pain in my lower right side in the morning, and that's when my billet mom took me to the hospital, did an ultrasound, and said 'yeah, you need the surgery.'"
“It was a little bit rough,” the 6-foot-1 winger said of his summertime health issues. “But a little adversity is always good for a player, and to get that out of the way before the season starts.”
Still, Senyshyn thinks he’s a better player than he was a year ago.
“I still think I had a really good summer of training. I don’t think it really deterred me too much,” Senyshyn noted after a Tuesday skate at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. “I think I was really positive in the way that I recovered from both of them, and I’m really excited getting my strength back and focusing each day on getting better and making those strides… I’ll be back to my old self in no time.”
Part of Boston’s three-pack of first-round picks in 2015 at 14 through 16 overall (Jakub Zboril was picked at No. 14 while scoring winger Jake DeBrusk when No. 16), Senyshyn made a 19-goal and 20-point statistical improvement for the Greyhounds in just as many games (66) as he did in 2014-15 and felt his own game emerge throughout the year as one of the Greyhounds’ alternate captains.
“I definitely feel like I’m more of a well-rounded player, and I think that was something I really needed to work on last year,” Senyshyn noted. “I think I really like my development and my growth over my junior career so far, and I think that it’s given the confidence I need going into this camp.”
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney
has noted that the best players in the organization will make this roster regardless of their age or experience, and that includes a guy like Senyshyn.
But right now, it’s still just one step at a time.
Senyshyn noted that he met with doctors and management, but that there’s no exact timetable for when he’ll be ready to take full contact. “Right now it’s just day to day,” said Senyshyn.
The Bruins open their main training camp with off-ice testing on Thursday.
Ty Anderson has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, has been a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter since 2013, and can also be read in the New England Hockey Journal magazine. Contact him on Twitter or send him an email at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com.