Experts Believe Minnesota Wild Got Steal of NHL Draft

Zeev Buium, Minnesota Wild, 2024 NHL Draft
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody knew what the Minnesota Wild were going to do when the opening round of the NHL Draft took place on Friday evening. There were reports that they could trade it, or use it to move up, maybe down. If the right kid fell, sticking and picking at No. 13 was obviously on the table too.

In the end, they mimicked the 2024 Vikings and moved up one spot to make sure they landed a defenseman, in 18-year-old Zeev Buium (Denver), that many around the hockey world are wondering how he was still available.

Minnesota Wild getting NHL Draft steal in Zeev Buium?

Buium was the 2nd-youngest player in college hockey, as a freshman at Denver last season, where he was one of the best players on a National Championship team. He’s a natural-born blue line scorer, the type that this team and fanbase has been dreaming about for the last decade.

In his first season at DU, Zeev Buium potted 11 goals to go with 39 assists, becoming the first freshman defenseman at the University to rack up 50 points in a season.

The California native, who played two years of high school at Shattuck St. Mary, took home NCHC Rookie of the Year and NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year in 2024, along with being named a finalist for the Tim Taylor Award (NCAA rookie of the year) and a Hobey Baker nominee.

According to Michael Russo (The Athletic), Guerin had already said that if Buium somehow fell to 13, he was going to stick and pick. Instead, he moved up one slot and made sure to get him. Those who know the game of hockey understand why.

At 18 years old, there are a few questions regarding his skating ability and his projection as a shutdown defender at the NHL level. Others, like The Athletic’s lead NHL prospect analyst, Corey Pronman, called Zeev “exactly what the Wild need” and listed him as one of the top steals in the 1st round, noting, “I don’t share that concern in any meaningful way”.

Buium is exactly what the Wild need. He’s a dynamic defenseman who is one of the smartest players in the draft and carried Denver to a title. He has the potential to be a top pair/PP1 defender for the Wild and provides star upside they don’t have a ton of in their organization. He slipped a bit in the draft as teams didn’t think he had truly elite skating for a 6-foot D-man and questioned his defense in the NHL. I don’t share those concerns in a meaningful way.

Corey Pronman – The Athletic

And Pronman isn’t the only one. Even Russo tweeted that he has never seen a Wild draft pick so universally loved, in his 20 years of covering the team. Here are some of the other reactions and takes, regarding Minnesota’s No. 12 overall pick, who will return to Denver for his sophomore season, before making any decisions on when he will turn pro.

Over the last 15 months, all Buium has done is win. He won at the U-18s, world juniors and NCAA national championship. Buium’s game is built on his intellect and ability to make the right play in any given situation continually. His offensive game is impressive because of his reads, knowing exactly when to attack off the blueline and when to defer to teammates. In transition, he is an excellent passer who hits teammates in stride but won’t force a pass. In his own end, Buium plays a tactical, positional game.

The Hockey News

Trading up to get Zeev Buium was a major win for the Wild’s prospect system. I think he has the chance to be a star in the NHL and him lasting to 12 was one of the biggest first-round surprises. Ryder Ritchie, Aron Kiviharju and Sebastian Soini were all on FloHockey’s Top 100 as well. Ritchie has some electric hand skills and Kiviharju came into this year as a first-round candidate before injury cost him his season. There’s still upside to get from there. I think the Wild made some impact additions to their prospect pool with their earlier picks.

Flo Hockey
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