2008-09: Despite the fact that Zach Budish missed the entire season due to a torn ACL he suffered in a playoff game with the Hornets football team back in October, he was still regarded as one of the top Minnesota high school players in this year’s draft. A big reason is his outstanding performance at the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, where Budish led Team USA in goal scoring with three goals and added two assists in four games. CSS ranking going into the draft: 22nd among NA skaters. Budish got back on the ice at Nashville Predators conditioning camp in July 2009, and will attend the 2009 U.S National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid.
2009-10: Budish appeared in 39 games as a freshman for the University of Minnesota, putting to rest any worries about the knee injury he suffered playing football during his senior year of high school. The bruiser scored 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points in his first collegiate season.
2010-11: Budish was off to a fast start in his sophomore season at Minnesota, scoring 2 goals with 4 assists in the Gophers’ first seven games, before suffering a season-ending knee injury in a moped accident. Minnesota finished fifth in the WCHA.
2011-12: Both Budish and the Gophers had a comeback season. Minnesota returned to the top of the WCHA and the junior was a big part of that success. Budish was plus-20 and scored 12 goals with 23 assists and had 43 penalty minutes in 43 games for the first-place Gophers. After having lost to North Dakota in the WCHA tournament, Minnesota defeated the Fighting Sioux in the NCAA West Regional Final to reach the Frozen Four.
2012-13: Budish signed a two-year entry-level contract with Nashville in April and made his pro hockey debut with AHL Milwaukee following his senior season at Minnesota. He played nine regular season games with the Admirals and three games in the playoff series against Texas. Budish scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was +6 with 2 penalty minutes. He was a team captain for Minnesota as the Gophers tied for first in the WCHA in their final season before heading to the new Big Ten Conference. Frequently teamed with center Erik Haula (Minn),Budish scored 14 goals with 22 assists in 40 games and was +17 with 14 penalty minutes. The Gophers lost to Colorado College in the WCHA semifinals and fell 3-2 in overtime to eventual national champion Yale in the NCAA West Regional semifinals.
Budish is a complete player. At nearly 6’3", he certainly has size. Budish is a powerful skater who has remarkably good speed and acceleration for such a big man. He has great instincts, good vision, and makes very good decisions in all three zones. Budish utilizes his large frame and strength very well, including on the physical side and is quite difficult to move off the puck. He can deliver some solid checks without taking himself out of the play. He also has great hands and superb playmaking ability.
After finishing his senior year at University of Minnesota as the team captain, and having a rather solid short call up the Admirals in 2012-13, he will start his full-time pro career in the AHL. He is one of many hard-working forwards that fits well into the system of Nashville. He should see success within the system.