Promising blueliner Zeev Buium won a bunch during his draft year

Photo credit:Clarkson Creative via University of Denver Athletics
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
A year ago, the Calgary Flames’ prospect system lacked depth on the defensive side. So over the past several months, general manager Craig Conroy has gone out and acquired a bunch of young blueliners. While the need for blueliners isn’t dire, there arguably isn’t a future ace in the Flames’ blueline group.
For a team in need of a defensive ace, University of Denver freshman Zeev Buium could fit like a glove.

Scouting report

Part of a family that’s produced quite a few good hockey players – his old brother, Shai, just signed with Detroit – Zeev Buium is an Orange County, California product who’s a December 2005 birthday. He’s a left shot defender listed at 6’0″ and 185 pounds.
Buium has progressed quite well through the various whistle-stops that high-end players go through in the United States. He came up through the Los Angeles Jr. Kings system, then played his 14 and 15-year-old seasons at Shattuck St. Mary’s before moving onto the U.S. National Development Program for his 16 and 17-year-old seasons. He moved onto the University of Denver for the 2023-24 season, which he spent as a “true” freshman, turning 18 a couple months into the season.
And for a collegiate player of any age, Buium had a fantastic 2023-24 campaign.
Here’s how Dobber Prospects’ David Saad evaluated Buium back in November:
With all the hype in the NCAA regarding Celebrini and Levshunov, it’s easy to forget Zeev Buium is playing there as well. A shame, because he’s been fantastic since arriving. His trademark mobility is as present as ever and is now employing multiple layers of deception at multiple levels. Whether it’s his evasiveness in transition or his speed on the rush, very little can keep Buium from where he wants to go on the ice. His passing game is remarkable, as he is able to identify soft ice regularly even at this intermediate level. However, a lot of this was already well-documented, what isn’t is how well he’s evolved defensively as well. He has become much better at anticipating play, and become a rather proficient stick-checker as well. When he is being beaten, it’s usually a matter of pure athleticism as he is playing exclusively against older, bigger men, a task hard enough before his relatively slim 5’11, 165lb frame is considered. He has plenty of time to get there, and he looks plenty impressive as is. If he continues on this path, he can make his placement on draft day a very difficult conversation.
In December, The Hockey News’ Tony Ferrari added his well-informed two cents on Buium:
Prior to this season, the London Knights’ Sam Dickinson had a strong Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which put his name atop the board. Early in the year, as Russian blueliner Anton Silayev started strong at the KHL level, he was the player everyone seemed to have in mind. When the college season started, Artyom Levshunov was the hot name thanks to his size, mobility and production.
While all those blueliners have upside and bring a unique skill set to the table, there may not be a more well-rounded and intelligent defenseman than Buium, with his balance of offensive aptitude, defensive fortitude and effective transition play.
In January, Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis dug into Buium’s strong World Junior performance, including consulting with some NHL scouts:
“He’s got a pro-level skillset,” an NHL scout said. “He thinks the game at a high level, plays at a high pace, knows when he needs to calm things down and he’s got the talent to get himself out of trouble. He’s exceptionally mobile, like you expect out of top defensive prospects these days.”
In short: Buium’s really, really good. He’s progressed steadily over the past few years, his play features several of the attributes that tend to lead to NHL success, and over the past 13 months he’s won gold medals with the United States at the Under-18 Worlds and World Juniors, and an NCAA national championship. He’s been a key player for teams that have won a lot recently.

The numbers

Buium had a superb season offensively as a freshman for Denver. He was second on his team in points, trailing Florida Panthers prospect Jack Devine by six points. Buium posted 11 goals and 39 assists for 50 points over 24 games.
He led all college defencemen in points. He was second among all collegiate draft-eligible players in points, trailing only presumptive first overall pick Macklin Celebrini. He was third in the entire NCAA in assists and 10th in points. He was named a west region first team All-American. (Again, as an 18-year-old freshman.)
He led the World Juniors in plus/minus and in goals by a blueliner.

Availability and fit

The fit for Buium with the Flames is pretty obvious. The Flames have a fairly deep defensive group, but they don’t have any all-around aces that project to be potential top pairing guys. Buium would immediately become their top defensive prospect. Based on what we’ve seen from him so far, Buium fits the Flames’ needs really well.
The question is whether or not Buium slides to ninth overall. He’s ranked fourth by Daily Faceoff, fourth by Corey Pronman, seventh by Scott Wheeler, eighth by FC Hockey, eighth by Bob McKenzie, and 10th by Elite Prospects. He could slide to the Flames, but it seems pretty likely that another team snaps him up. (Or that the Flames would have to trade up to get him.)


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