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Scouting the 09 Draft - Zach Budish

Like Kreider, Budish is a big American kid whose experience to date lies completely in High School hockey. His more than impressive size and notable amateur scoring stats in 07/08 made him a rising star in scouts eyes before his 08/09 season was largely wiped out by an ACL tear.

At 6' 3" and 230 pounds Budish is probably the biggest forward prospect I've come across. That size and strength helped him completely dominate his peers at Edina High School, for whom he also played football as a linebacker. His various scouting reports all speak glowingly about his game. Central Scoutings Jack Barzee has this to say about Budish:

"Zach is physically mature in stature, has a good shot in traffic and has a strong ability to dissect the game around him. He’s a force, he’s hard to move off the puck and he can snap a wrist shot from the blue line. With Zach playing football and the two seasons overlapping, his criticism has been that he hasn’t had his skating legs under him, but I’ve seen Zach since he was 15 years old. I’ve seen how he has carried the team and made people around him better. He reminds me of Keith Tkachuk or David Backes at the same age."

SBNations own Western College Hockey Blog describes Budish thusly:

Budish has incredible size and strength that very few high schoolers could match up against. That strength makes him a threat to score from nearly anywhere in the offensive zone thanks to a very heavy snap shot. What seperates Budish from other power forwards is his great passing ability and unselfishness with the puck.

Of course, as with any big man, there's going to be concerns about skating and quickness and that's no exception with Budish. The real issue with him, of course, is the fact that he's played all of 45 games of hockey in the last two seasons, all of them against high school competition. That's not a lot for a scout to go on, making him a high risk bet; especially for a first round pick.

Budish will apparently be going the College route in Minnesota, so expect him to be a long-term project.

Why the Flames might pick him

Besides being monstrous and putting up great results a year ago, Budish may also be a relative bargain in the first round due to his ACL injury dropping his ranking. The Flames have shown a penchant for seeking out "undervalued due to injury status" guys under Sutter - the Backlund and Pelech choices both come to mind here.

Why they might not

As mentioned, 45 games at the HS level is a really, really tiny sample of games. Given that Budish's size would give him an automatic advantage versus other high school teens - one that might disappear against better opponents - the sample wasn't all that good either. There's lots of risk associated with picking a guy with so little material to choose from.

* Coming Down the Pipe has a link to a Zach Budish interview here.