How Shai Buium, son of Israeli immigrants, became Detroit Red Wings draft pick

Detroit Free Press

The first obstacle to Shai Buium’s path to the NHL draft  was his mom.

Buium doesn’t remember exactly why his mother, Miri objected when his six-year-old self asked if he could play after watching a cousin play hockey in their hometown of San Diego.  Nonetheless he persevered until she relented, and the payoff has been huge.

Detroit Red Wings General manager Steve Yzerman again used his vast collection of picks to move up in the draft, trading the No. 38 and No. 128 pick to move up to No. 36. Four spots into the second round of Saturday’s NHL draft , the Wings selected Buium, a 6-feet-3, 210-pound defenseman with offensive upside.

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“We feel we’ve added another good defense prospect, good skater, smart hockey player, that we really like,” director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said. “He was a very intriguing prospect.”

The Wings interviewed Buium multiple times leading up to the draft.

“They just want to get to know you,” Buium said. “They asked about your family and what kind of kid you are and what type of hockey player I think I’m going to be in the future. I think I’ll be able to be a good, solid top defenseman in the NHL, playing a two-way game.”

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Buium, 18, is the son of Israeli immigrants. His home mother   was a professional basketball player in Israel and she and her husband, Iulian moved to southern California, where he ran his own heating and cooling company. Sports wasn’t a priority in the family, until Shai made it one. He played Triple-A hockey in Los Angeles, using that as a  springboard to Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota, a hockey hotbed. He split the 2020-21 season between Shattuck and the USHL, recording 26 points in 50 games with the Sioux City Musketeers.

“I went from San Diego to playing in L.A. to playing at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota to Sioux City and now I’m going to go play in Denver,” Buium said. “It’s definitely been a good journey.”

Buium is committed to playing next season at the University of Denver, which is home to 2019 Wings second-round pick Antti Tuomisto. Carter Mazur, the 70th pick this year, is headed to Denver, too.

“I probably watched Shai early in November at Shattuck,” Draper said. “I wasn’t even sure he was, I was watching a couple other prospects. I was asking who is this defenseman. The size and the hockey sense really stood out for me.

“Shattuck ended up shutting down, and he went to Sioux City. He was playing in third pair, and as soon as he decided to spend the rest of the year in the USHL, he started taking on more responsibility and played in all situations.

“He just kept getting better. Whenever we saw him, he got better. That was intriguing.”

Being drafted by the Wings couldn’t have been much more perfect for Buium. As a kid in Southern California, his hockey allegiance wasn’t to the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks, it was to the Wings.

“Growing up, Detroit was my favorite team when Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were there,” Buium said. “They were my two favorite players. I’m super excited to be part of this organization.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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