Manor 2024 NHL Draft Preview: Defenseman Zeev Buium, USA

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Sure, the Trade Deadline and Stanley Cup Playoffs are still major items on the NHL calendar this season. However, it’s never too early to start prepping for the 2024 Entry Draft. After all, GMs around the league have already held their midseason press conferences, so the league’s big summer event will be here before we know it.

So, similar to years past, we’re diving into our Draft coverage with a series of player profiles.

As of this writing, Los Angeles holds four picks for this June’s Draft, scheduled for The Sphere in Las Vegas: their own first, fourth, sixth, and seventh round picks. Currently up against the cap, they likely don’t have the space to trade future capital to add another major piece to the roster; consequently, the first pick may be considered somewhat safe – just not entirely.

Assuming the Kings qualify for the playoffs, they would be scheduled to select somewhere between No. 17-28 (or later, if they made it to at least the Western Conference Final). At this point, Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti and his staff pretty much have to prepare for just about any scenario. For example, if the team was to miss the playoffs, they would then most likely be picking somewhere around No. 10-16 instead. Moving up or down 5-10 spots in the first round can be a very big deal.

There are many directions the organization could go as far as restocking their pipeline too.

Given that Tobias Bjornfot was lost to waivers earlier this season, and that left defense is arguably one of the weaker positions after Jakub Dvorak, we put our focus in that direction to start things off. As the adage goes, never draft for need; but all other factors being equal, need becomes a factor. That being said, there’s a bit of familiarity, past and present, with our first prospect.

Zeev Buium​


Vitals

Date of Birth: December 19, 2003
Height: 6-feet-0
Weight: 183 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Defense

2023-24 Season

Buium has spent the entire season in collegiate hockey. He has 34 points (7G, 27A) in 26 games for the Denver Pioneers.

How They Know Him Wright Now

The Pioneers should be a familiar team name for followers of Kings prospects. His teammate, Jared Wright, was selected by Los Angeles at the 2022 draft (169th overall).

Not a Thousand Oaks Native, But…

Arguably, one of the most popular Kings players is ‘Thousand Oaks Native’ Trevor Moore. Be prepared to hear references of Buium hailing from Laguna Niguel. The likely 2024 first-rounder also spent a season playing for the Junior Kings before migrating to well-known prep school Shattuck St. Mary’s.

Brotherly Bragging Rights

The left-handed rearguard has some name recognition going into the draft already. His older brother, Shai, was selected in the second-round by Detroit back in 2021. Currently teammates at DU, the younger Buium has some bragging rights, as he’s outscoring his brother this season 34 points to 25.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

Ranked No 13 by Bob McKenzie. There’s no writeup in the article about him. However, it’s important to note that McKenzie’s rankings are based on polling 10 independent scouts.

Ranked No. 16 by McKeen’s Hockey. In a subsequent article on the site, Ethan Hetu wrote: “The six-foot-tall left-shot blueliner soared to the top of Denver head coach David Carle’s defensive lineup. Although he’s not even 20 games into his collegiate career, Buium looks every bit the part of an elite NCAA blueliner. He’s confident, decisive, and doesn’t shy away from the physicality inherent in playing against typically older competition.

“Lots of players, especially defensemen, struggle with the increased pace, aggression, and pressure of college hockey. That has not been an issue for Buium, in fact, he’s thrived under the increased pressure. He’s fit right in on an offensive juggernaut of a Denver team and even earned his way onto a regular role on Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Buium had a solid tournament and capped it off by scoring a dagger of a goal against the Swedes in the final, a shot that all but clinched the gold for the Americans.”

Ranked No. 21 by Dobber Prospects. “Zeev Buium is a tremendous skater who uses his mobility to create consistent advantages on both sides of the puck.”

See For Yourself

Here is a video of Buium playing against Switzerland at the 2024 World Juniors:


Final Comments

Buium embodies the modern-day defenseman: an exceptional skater who loves to generate offense and thrives on body position for defense. Having earned a gold medal with Team USA at the recent World Junior Championships always draws attention to talented players, especially when you have the most goals by a defenseman (3) in the tournament and the best plus-minus rating (plus-11). Things look stellar on the surface.

Watching him, there are two completely different games between offense and defense. With the puck, particularly on offense, he finds seams within the opposition’s defense where he carries the puck in deep and eludes defenders. Trying this from the blueline takes a healthy mix of talent to pull off, confidence to attempt, and trust in teammates to cover any mistakes. Consequently, his ability to score goals from in close is of no surprise. The ability to smell blood on the attack and skate in to join the rush, even if the puck isn’t passed to him, gives defenders another threat to think about. Buium’s skating technique demonstrates good balance, acceleration, and speed. To say there’s room for improvement isn’t a knock on him – it’s fairly normal considering he’s only 18 years old.

Defensively, Buium shows good strength and positioning when trying to separate players from the puck. His bread and butter is to move within the crook of the offender’s arm and separating the player from the puck. This talent is important for a six-foot tall blueliner; they usually don’t have the reach to poke check nor do they have the size to bully players and knock them onto their backside. He plays within his means, which is just one understated facet of hockey sense. There are plenty of times where a defender gets caught puck watching, and he forgets to look around to identify incoming threats.

The biggest room for improvement, along with general strength that comes with all young players, is his play away from the puck. Forgetting to look around is one component, yet there are times his feet just stop moving in both the offensive and defensive zones when someone else has possession. This tends to take him out of the play or eliminate him as an option, depending on circumstances.

Taking everything into consideration, Buium has the makings and qualities of being a regular offensive defenseman at the NHL level. There are some habits to clean up, areas that will help take his game to the next level. However, a player who knows his strengths and plays within his means has the opportunity to grow more than trying to make them into someone they’re not. Whether a team employs an offensive system or a defensive one, the Southern California native has the skills and sense to adapt in either environment.

Chat with David: You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.




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