Zeev Buium celebrates national title

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zeev Buium is aware he is projected to be selected among the top 10 at the 2024 NHL Draft on June 28, but the University of Denver defenseman doesn’t think it can top the high of winning the national championship with a 2-0 victory against No. 1 Boston College at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

“This is definitely at the top for sure,” the 18-year-old freshman said. “This is an incredible feeling. Best feeling in the world.”

Buium was ranked No. 4 in Central Scouting’s midterm ranking of North American skaters, and No. 5 in NHL.com’s top 32.

With a no-look drop pass to Rieger Lorenz (Minnesota Wild) in the second period to make it 2-0, Buium took the NCAA scoring lead among defensemen with 50 points (11 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games.

“I knew he was driving to the net and [I] just kind of put it there, and it was a great finish by Rieger,” said Buium, who was named both an All-American and to the All-Tournament team. “The hockey gods were on our side tonight, I think.”

Lorenz, selected by the Wild in the second round (No. 56) of the 2022 NHL Draft, was quick to give Buium the credit.

“Yeah, Zeev's been doing it all year,” Lorenz said. “He climbed up the ice, beat a few of guys. I was lucky enough to find open ice, and he found me. And I was lucky enough to put it in.”

What made Saturday even more memorable for Buium was getting to share the national championship with his older brother; Shai Buium, a 20-year-old junior defenseman selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round (No. 36) of the 2021 NHL Draft. He had 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists) in 43 games for Denver this season.

“We’re just excited for this moment,” Shai said. “We've dreamed of this since we were kids. We've probably celebrated out back home in the yard pretending we won a national championship before, so we're just really excited for this moment.”

Zeev said, “He’s the best big brother in the world. I love him and owe him a lot.”

Denver coach David Carle is confident Zeev will have a successful NHL career. Buium (6-foot, 183 pounds) doesn’t turn 19 until Dec. 7.

“I think it starts probably with his mindset,” Carle said. “Very competitive person, wants to be on the ice in big moments, wants to impact the game. Has an ability to, like, play the game that's in front of him, which I think is really impressive. I mean, he can be a part of opening a game up, but he also can be a part of shutting plays down and play in the 2-1 games.

“He doesn't look uncomfortable in our NCAA tournament games. … To me, it's hard to find a more impactful player shift in, shift out, game in, game out, that's available in the draft.”