BOSTON -- In the two years since he was selected by the Boston Bruins with the No. 15 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, forward prospect Zach Senyshyn has attended three Bruins development camps and improved his all-around game with Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League.
Months away from becoming a full-time pro, there's still something the 20-year-old hasn't accomplished while part of the Bruins organization: meeting Hockey Hall of Fame member Johnny Bucyk, who played 21 of his 23 NHL seasons in Boston and shares a Ukrainian heritage with Senyshyn.
"I've never met Johnny Bucyk. It's on the list," Senyshyn said. "I remember after I was drafted I was asked about that. And I know he wore No. 9, which is pretty cool."
Senyshyn wore No. 9 with Sault Ste. Marie, but he won't be wearing it in Boston because it's retired for Bucyk, who had 1,339 points (545 goals, 794 assists) in 1,436 games for the Bruins and is seen often around TD Garden in his role as an ambassador for the franchise.
If Senyshyn wants to become the next Ukrainian sensation in Boston, he's going to have to become a better two-way player. His offensive talent is already evident, with 65 points in each of his past two seasons in the OHL. Senyshyn's play without the puck has improved, but he knows it's about his mentality as much as it is about his talent.
"I think it's just knowing that you always have to be doing something, whether you have the puck on your stick or not," he said. "Using your speed not just to score goals but to break up goals and create offense by turning it the other way. Being able to track hard and being defensively responsible. I think that's the one thing I really learned from moving up to the AHL, is you can't take your foot off the pedal, ever."
Senyshyn got a brief taste of pro hockey last spring when he played in four playoff games for Providence of the American Hockey League. Senyshyn didn't have any points, but Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner estimated Senyshyn had at least three breakaways in those games.
Thanks to his speed, Senyshyn might have a leg up on the competition come training camp.
"Obviously he can skate," Langenbrunner said. "He's as fast as anybody we've got. So that dynamic seems to be good. It's for him learning to be a pro. We stressed that the last year, of getting the details of this game better, and he's going to continue to work on that. The quicker he grasps that, the better of he'll be."
Athleticism runs in Senyshyn's family. His father, Paul, was a quarterback at Queen's University in Brampton, Ontario. Senyshyn said he played a little middle linebacker as a kid but liked to throw hits so much, hockey seemed like a better fit. That decision has paid off with a chance to play in the NHL within reach. Senyshyn, though, is remaining patient.
"The theme of my career has always been: develop slowly," he said. "And just learn and try to get better every time you show up at the rink. And I think that's one thing that's shown, that I've gotten better each year and I've tried to kind of keep that steady pace of getting better."