Photo Credit: Shattuck-St. Mary’s School
Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk
One of the more interesting draft profiles for the 2021 NHL Draft class comes in the form of Sioux City Musketeers defenseman Shai Buium. Buium was born in San Diego, California, but his parents were both born in Israel. Shai was introduced to the game of hockey by his cousin, and it didn’t take long for him to fall in love.
Buium played his youth hockey with the Los Angeles Kings AAA 13U squad in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League, where he just missed out on being a point-per-game player (35pts in 47 games in 2016/17). The following season, Buium began to attend USHS Prep School, Shattuck St. Mary’s, alongside fellow Draft eligible Liam Gilmartin. Buium enjoyed a successful rookie season with Shattuck, recording four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 29 games. From 2018 to 2020, Buium suited up for Shattuck’s 16U AAA team, where he had two very impressive seasons, notching a combined 21 goals, 67 assists for 88 points in 100 total games.
In 2020/21, Buium split time between Shattuck’s USHS-Prep team and the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL, where he saw his draft stock rise with some excellent two-way play. He recorded two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 17 games playing with Scott Morrow at Shattuck’s to start the campaign, and finished with an impressive four goals and 22 assists for 26 points in 50 games with the Musketeers.
For the 2022/23 season, Buium has committed to the University of Denver, where he’ll join a Pioneer squad which could boast names like Sean Behrens and 2022 NHL Draft Eligible prospect Jack Devine. Under the tutelage of Head Coach David Carle, Buium and co. will look to take Denver back to their 2017 form, where the Pioneer squad captured the National Championship. Look for Shai Buium to play a pivotal role in getting back to the Frozen Four in the seasons ahead.
D.O.B – March 26, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –214 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Shai Buium is an extremely talented two-way defenseman who rarely spares a chance to make something happen offensively. Whether it’s by pinching in down low to dish the puck off to a teammate in proximity, or by completing a zone entry and driving on net, Buium always seems to have his fingerprints on offensive opportunities.
In transition, there aren’t many defenders who are as capable as Buium when it comes to flipping the play from defense to offense. He is the catalyst for orchestrating Sioux City’s breakouts, and he can make plays via his feet and by passing. Consistency is a strong trait of Buium’s, as he can be relied upon to lead the offensive charge without issue virtually every time.
Defensively, Buium is efficient at disrupting attackers’ chances and is successful at putting his body in the way to break up passing lanes and block shots. He’s also capable of using his 6’3, 214lbs frame to play physical and knock opponents off the puck.
Let’s take a deeper look into the most important aspects of Shai Buium’s game:
The most unrefined aspect of his overall game, Buium’s skating did make strides in 2020/21, when comparing his footage from the season before. It seemed as if he added a little more speed, which he generated from working on elongating his stride.
Buium is agile enough to navigate the neutral and offensive zones, as he has shown in his footage with Sioux City this past season. Several times per game, it was evident he could open his hips and skate the width of the blueline at will, looking to create offense.
An impressive trait of Buium’s skating is his overall strength on his skates. In watching his game film, he was not knocked off the puck easily, and tended to get a relatively low center of gravity, which helped him fend off attackers and protect the puck.
In preparation for the next level, Buium’s edgework and acceleration could use a little bit of added skill, as there have been times where he’s been caught up ice after a failed pinch attempt, and struggled to get back in time to defend properly. It’s a very minor tweak, but one that could pay dividends at the next level if Buium continues to play the game the way he does.
Buium loves to flex his offensive skill muscle pretty much any time he comes across a sliver of space. He’s exceptional at using his soft and smooth hands to make a simple deke around a defender and then cut in on net, resulting in a strong scoring chance pretty much every time.
Buium loves to throw pucks on net as early and as often as he can. Whether it be from his slapshot which is a bit of a work in progress, or his strong and accurate wrist shot, Buium can put himself in a position to score almost every time the puck touches his stick in the offensive zone.
Passing is another extremely positive element to Buium’s offensive game. He can hit a teammate with a crisp, clean pass to start the breakout, and he can also deliver the puck in a timely matter with accuracy in the offensive zone.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Buium’s game is his vision on the ice and his overall hockey IQ. He thinks the game so well, especially when it comes to creating breakouts and with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. Buium seems to think one step ahead pretty much all of the time and can be lethal when given too much time and space to operate within.
Buium is able to keep good gap control when defending the opponent’s rush up ice, and tends to force play to the boards rather than allowing them to cut up the middle of the ice. Then, he’s efficient at winning puck battles along the boards, and getting the puck away from attackers. Not only is Buium skilled enough to strip opponents of the puck, he’s quick to make a decision on how to flip the play and head up ice as fast and effective as possible.
In terms of positioning, Buium is well above average. He’s rarely caught out of position, and can defend the net front as well as down low along the boards with a high level of success.
Buium does a great job sacrificing his body to shut down passing lanes and to block shots. He’s able to utilize his active stick to disrupt any sort of set-ups attackers throw his way, and clear the zone with a high level of effectiveness.
As Buium is still developing as a prospect, there’s a little room for his overall defensive game to grow. As it stands now, he’s a solid defender who will only continue to progress as he transitions to the next level.
Let’s look at a couple of areas in which Buium can improve upon to reach his maximum potential:
As mentioned above, Shai Buium is a very solid prospect who’s game projects very well at the next level. That being said, like any prospect, there’s always room for improvement. For Buium, the biggest area of improvement would be to develop his skating a little bit more.
Buium is a decent skater, but his edgework and acceleration could use some added skill. He may look to integrate some off-ice training to build up his explosiveness out of the gate, and with a lesser game schedule in College Hockey, it will allow Buium more time in the gym to add muscle.
Second, Buium may look to work on getting into more high-danger shooting areas in the offensive zone. Over half of his shots on goal this past season came from the right-center area around the blueline. For a player who thrives on creating offense and pinching down as frequent as Buium, he may look to be a little more patient with getting pucks on net, in order to cause more high-danger chances.
Lastly, Buium may look to improve the speed and accuracy of his slapshot. In watching his film, it was noticeable that Buium sometimes struggled to get his shot on net, which runs the risk of exiting the zone depending on where the puck hits the boards/opponents/etc. He may look to spend some of the offseason working on his shot power and accuracy, as it will be a pivotal part of his game in the near future.
Looking at the more in-depth aspects of Shai Buium’s game, it’s evident with a little work on his skating, Buium has the skillset and abilities to be a menace at the NHL level. His two-way game certainly translates quite well at the next level, and for someone his size to be so smooth and effective in every zone of the ice is impressive.
Buium has been all over the map when it comes to draft rankings, as his sample size is a little smaller than other two-way, offensively gifted defensemen in the class. However, it would come as no surprise to see a team take a swing for the fences and select Buium somewhere in the second round.
As Buium heads to the University of Denver to begin the 2022/23 season, he’ll look to work on the little things which will elevate his level of play that much more. Whichever team that ends up selecting Buium in the 2021 NHL Draft may have to wait a few seasons to see a return on their investment, but if he continues on his development path, that wait will be more than worth it.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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