The University of Denver hockey program has made history. For the first time ever, four future Pioneers were picked in the first three rounds of the same NHL Draft. No Pioneers were selected on Friday night despite two of them, Sean Behrens and Shai Buium, being projected to be taken late in the first round. Instead, Saturday morning was busy at the corner of University and Buchtel as they both were drafted along with Samu Salminen and Carter Mazur within the first 70 picks of the draft.
Buium, a 6’3″ 214 lbs defenseman from San Diego, Calif. who played his prep hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s, was the first Pioneer taken as the Detroit Red Wings selected him early in the 2nd round at #36 overall. He joins sophomore defenseman Antti Tuomisto as two of the Pioneers’ three (we’ll get to that) Red Wings prospects on DU’s 2021-22 roster.
Sean Behrens, a product of the United States National Team Development Program from Barrington. Ill., was picked 25 picks after Buium by the Colorado Avalanche at #61 overall to begin a run of three Pioneers taken in the span of nine picks. The 5’10” 176 lbs defenseman is seen as a bit undersized but watching his game, it becomes immediately clear that he plays much bigger than his size. He has also shown a penchant for contributing to the offensive game, scoring 7 goals and 28 assists for 35 points for the USNTDP over 46 games in 2020-2021. Behrens becomes the fourth Pioneers to be drafted by the Avs, joining J.D. Corbin (2004), Paul Stastny (2005), and Will Butcher (2013).
Salminen is the only one of the four Pios picked that has not yet signed with the program as he is slated to join the program for the 2022-2023 season. The 6’3″, 190 lbs forward from Helsinki, Finland was taken at #68 overall by the New Jersey Devils after putting up 10 goals and 16 assists in just 17 games for Jokerit U20 in the Finnish U20 SM-Sarja. He also scored 7 goals and added 2 assists in 7 games as Team Finland’s captain at the 2021 World Junior Championships in Edmonton.
The last Pioneers picked in the 2021 NHL Draft may be the best story of them all as Detroit native Carter Mazur was selected at #70 overall by his hometown Red Wings. Not only did Mazur become the third Red Wings prospect on DU’s 2021-22 roster, but he also fulfilled a childhood dream in the process:
Dreams come true. Read this from @Carter_Mazur, age 8. Now the Michigan native is the newest @DetroitRedWings @NHL Draft pick. (Photo courtesy: Mazur Family.) @NHLNetwork pic.twitter.com/PDyvtfpamT
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 24, 2021
Wearing the “C” for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm last season, Mazur tallied 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in 47 games.
With Buium, Behrens, and Mazur getting drafted, the Pioneers will feature 12 NHL prospects on its roster for 2021-22:
NHL prospects on 2021-22 @DU_Hockey:
-Brett Stapley (MTL)
-Cole Guttman (TB)
-Bobby Brink (PHI)
-McKade Webster (TB)
-Carter Savoie (EDM)
-Massimo Rizzo (CAR)
-Carter Mazur (DET)
-Antti Tuomisto (DET)
-Mike Benning (FLA)
-Sean Behrens (COL)
-Shai Buium (DET)
-Magnus Chrona (TB)
— LetsGoDU (@LetsGoDU) July 24, 2021
After a rough 2020-2021 pandemic-affected season that saw the Pioneers miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007, the pieces appear to be in place to prove that last year was nothing more than an anomaly and that the Pios are indeed the perennial national title-contending program that fans expect them to be.
Top photo of Sean Behrens: NHL.com