2020-21 Team: Sioux City Musketeers (#8)
Date of Birth: March 26, 2003
Place of Birth: San Diego, CA
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 214 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 20th (amongst NA skaters)
- FC Hockey: 62nd
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 85th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 90th
Unlike other USHL draft hopefuls Ryan St. Louis, Josh Doan, and Cole Sillinger, Shai Buium did not have the benefit of growing up around an NHL veteran. In fact, his parents knew very little about the game of hockey. If it wasn’t for his cousin who brought him to his games when he was six, he probably wouldn’t be on the cusp of being drafted into the NHL in a couple of months.
My cousin lived down the road from us in San Diego, where I grew up…He played hockey and when I was six, they would take me to his games and I fell in love with it. I asked my mom if I could play and she was hesitant, but she said OK and I started from there.Shai Buium
Buium’s 6-foot-3, 214-pound frame is built for the NHL. Except size isn’t the only thing scouts are drooling over when they watch him play. He also has exceptional hockey IQ, mobility, and an uncanny ability to transition the puck from defence to offence in short order. That’s a combination you don’t see every day, especially from a 6-foot-3, 214-pound defenceman.
In the clips I saw of Buium, he was always in the right position defensively and knew when to jump up into the play. He also rarely delivered a bad pass out of his own zone and showed great anticipation in the attacking zone to keep the puck alive by activating from the point. Finally, as you could clearly see from the play highlighted by THW’s former draft guru Josh Bell, he’s also adept at controlling the puck with his size and stickhandling abilities.
Committed to the University of Denver, Buium will have one more season to hone his skills in the USHL with the Musketeers before transitioning into the NCAA at the beginning of the 2022-23 season. The fact that he’s playing in all situations and over 20 minutes a night for his head coach Luke Strand speaks volumes, as he’s already one of his team’s most trusted defencemen – at 18-years-old, no less. If he can improve upon his numbers in his sophomore season, he could even get a chance to showcase himself at the 2022 World Junior Championship where Team USA will be looking to repeat as World Champions.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Shai Buium – NHL Draft Projection
Ranked to go in the third round by many outlets, Buium could become a steal for whatever team selects him. With the amount of talented defencemen throughout this draft class, he probably will be chosen exactly where most people expect him to go. Although, with scouts still enamored with size, even with the rise of dynamic small defencemen like Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar, don’t be surprised to see him go sometime in the second round.
“He’s [Buium] attribute-loaded as far as being long…He skates well and he has heavy offensive awareness. At the same time, there’s a youthfulness – his body’s not complete yet. The things he’s been able to do jumping into a league mid-stream has been impressive.” – Luke Strand, head coach of the Sioux City Musketeers
“Perhaps his best offering, Buium is very prominent in being a reliable yet creative facilitator out of his own end. Either by pass or by foot, Buium displays a great skill in finding ways to feed transition for his team. His vision is best utilised when he has the game in front of him, recognising where the space is and inevitably will be. This is evident as it is the base of his strength in exiting the zone.” – Ashley Glover, Recruit Scouting
“Buium will be a very interesting name to remember at the NHL Draft. A big defender with soft hands and good mobility doesn’t come around often. He plays a strong two-way game, able to shut plays down with his stick or body, while also contributing offense and joining the rush on transitions. He is an overall good skater, especially for his size.” – Dylan Krill, FC Hockey
“I think the strengths of my game are my hockey IQ, my ability to play with the puck and away from the puck…I feel I have a good first pass, I play pretty good in the defensive zone, I like playing against the top players, I enjoy it. I think I need to work on my skating more and just get faster and stronger, along with my shot.” – Shai Buium
- Transition play
- Hockey IQ
- Great anticipation in the offensive zone
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Buium has the size and mobility to become an everyday defenceman in the NHL. When his raw skill is eventually refined he will be an all-around two-way defenceman that can play in all situations and eat up a lot of minutes for his team.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7/10
Buium played in the BioSteel All-American Game for Team USHL.
Shai Buium Statistics
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.