Names To Know: Zeev Buium Is One Of The Best Young Defenseman In NHL Draft

By Will Chase on May 13, 2024 at 10:15 am
Denver Pioneers defenseman Zeev Buium (28) and goaltender Matt Davis (35) celebrate their teams win against the Boston College Eagles after the championship game of the 2024 Frozen Four college ice hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 1st installment of our "Names To Know," 2024 edition, a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Last week, our Dan Dukart wrote about the top prospects and who could be of interest to the Blue Jackets. With the fourth pick in June's draft from Las Vegas, Columbus has a bevy of players to look at, and today, we look at Zeev Buium.

Buium, 6-foot, 183 lbs, is an 18-year-old American defenseman who played for the University of Denver in 2023-24, scoring 50 points (11 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games.

The Denver Pioneers won the National Championship in April over the Boston College Eagles for a record 10th title. Buium won gold with the U.S. in the 2024 World Juniors, scoring five points (three goals, two assists) in the seven-game tournament.

In April, The Athletic's Corey Pronman wrote about Buium and what the young defenseman provides for prospective NHL teams:

Buium has been one of the top-scoring defensemen in college as a draft-eligible. He is an extremely intelligent puck-mover who can run a power play like a top NHL player. He makes high-end plays routinely and can break shifts open with his puckhandling and passes. Buium is a strong skater who can activate off the blue line and create off the rush. He has very good edge work and is proficient at making checkers miss. His defense is good enough at the amateur level, but he isn't very physically imposing. He is smart and mobile and breaks up enough plays to go with his great offense to be a major positive at even strength. He has game breaking potential and looks like a potential star No. 1 defenseman in the NHL who will put up big numbers.

The Athletic's Scott Wheeler wrote about Buium's game in his early May rankings:

Buium put together one of the better seasons by a teenaged defenceman in recent college history this year, producing at or above the rates of some established NHL stars and elevating again and again in big moments (the world juniors, the NCHC Tournament and finally for the national championship) to stamp himself as a top-10 pick. Because of his December 2005 birthday, Buium (the younger brother of Red Wings prospect Shai, who he got to jointly win that natty with at Denver) entered the national program a year ahead of Cole Eiserman and company. Last year, in his second season at the NTDP, he really hit his stride, becoming a driver for the U18s. But this season, after growing a little (he was listed at 5-foot-11 last year and is now listed at 6 feet by NHL Central Scouting), he not only maintained his identity in college but really expanded on it, playing leading minutes and impacting play in all areas with his very active brand of hockey.

Wheeler goes on to say Buium is a plus-level skater and handler who plays in all three zones and has picked up his physicality, putting to bed early concerns in that department:

Some questioned his lack of physicality (with one scout even calling him soft) early on in the year but those questions were emphatically put to bed with the way he defended in the second half, going to work on some of the more talented forwards in college hockey defensively. He learned that the faster he cuts off plays the more he can play offense, and really began to take space more assertively defensively (on top of all of his stickwork and footwork).

Overall, Buium sounds like a solid first-round draft pick.

He has played some very good hockey for a while now (last spring to finish strong at the NTDP, again at the World Junior Summer Showcase, again at the world juniors where he was pretty clearly one of USA’s four best D as its youngest, and then all year as a big-time freshman with the Pioneers). He was viewed as a late first-/early second-rounder coming in and turned everyone into a believer with his play. He projects to be a top-four, playing-driving, offensively involved defenceman with a chance at stardom.

Early mock draft projections have Buium slated to go just after the Blue Jackets selection at No. 4, but there's still more than a month to go until next month's draft, which takes place on June 28-29.

Mock Draft Results
ESPN 8th
My NHL Draft 8th
Tankathon 6th 6th, 7th
The Athletic 6th
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