I feel like I was unfair to Shai Buium when I threw him on this barely concealed 1200 word sub-tweet to Bruins GM Don Sweeney. Because in doing so I may have unintentionally diminished a perfectly good NHL prospect who, in all honesty, deserves a fairer shake than just being picked for being big and strong and going to the NCAA. Plenty of players do that. It is not their call for the General Manager to overvalue those traits and pick them far above what they’re projected to go.
So I feel like giving Buium a fair shake, because frankly he’s actually a pretty cool story; A californian kid who got his start from a cousin who played in San Diego, and since then, his brothers joined in on the fun and now the whole Buium brood is in on the sport.
Buium is a player with a lot of individually very interesting traits; he’s a pretty solid skater who is rapidly improving, especially for a dude his size, able to move laterally just as well as his north-south foot speed, and he uses that in his own end to start breakouts, zone exits, and harass forecheckers. And of course, when you’re practically already NHL size already, you’re almost guaranteed to be a physical force in the USHL, and he was. But more than that, Buium showed some real promise as a playmaker; his ability to read plays and see where the offense is moving as well as the defense’s counters to it give him a very potent passing ability; able to cut through backcheckers with a well-timed pass.
Shai Buium (No. 8 Black) was NOT giving this puck up.— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) April 3, 2021
The six-foot-three, 214-pound @Musketeerhockey defender has some serious skill. I wouldn't be surprised to see an NHL team bite earlier than expected in the #2021NHLDraft. @FCHockey pic.twitter.com/PHBIl9KyoO
Of course, Buium has to actually be able to do all of these things together consistently in order to be able to be considered for first round availability, and right now, that’s simply not his deal. Buium’s skating is good, but it still needs to be better when it comes to turns that he sometimes loses acceleration in. His offense is pretty decent for a defenseman, but his shot is a bit slow and telegraphed at the moment, meaning that if he wants to be more at the next level, he’s gonna need to improve his timing. And while yeah, his defense is pretty strong and he has a big body to block shots, that skating can still get him caught flat-footed. He can read a play very well, but if he’s harried, he can make some boneheaded decisions. His toolset can get so buried in inconsistency that guys like EliteProspects had to sit back and try and figure out what was happening while they were grinding film on him.
Buium is the kind of player that, with careful coaching, could make for a very interesting project prospect, almost unilaterally decided as a third rounder. A lot of the prognosticators use the word “steal” when describing him, and while I think that’s a bit of a stretch, I definitely think that with the right amount of development, he could make for an intriguing pro level player.
Even if the pro level he caps out at is maybe the AHL.
61st by EliteProspects.com
54th by FC Hockey
85th by TSN (Bob McKenzie)
49th by McKeen’s Hockey
32nd by TSN (Craig Button)
20th by NHL Central Scouting among North American Skaters
85th by Recruit Scouting
92nd by Smaht Scouting
|2017-18||Shattuck St. Mary's 14U AAA||14U AAA||29||4||11||15||4|
|2018-19||Shattuck St. Mary's 16U AAA||16U AAA||54||7||24||31||22|
|2019-20||Shattuck St. Mary's 16U AAA||16U AAA||46||14||43||57||10|
|Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||3||0||3||3||2|
|2020-21||Shattuck St. Mary's 18U Prep||USHS Prep||17||2||11||13||2|
|Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||50||4||22||26||27|