The University of North Dakota may have missed the past three NCAA Tournaments, but the 2016 champs are on their way back to being a national contender with impressive recruiting classes this year and next. Adding his name to that group today is 2019 NHL Draft prospect Brendan Budy. The Grand Forks Herald reports that Budy will join the Fighting Hawks in 2020-21.
When Budy arrives at North Dakota, he will begin his second stint in the NCAA. The skilled winger began this season with the University of Denver, but was in and out of the lineup and struggling to produce. In fact, through the first half of the season, he had been held scoreless in six games. It was then that Budy opted to leave and join the USHL’s Tri-City Storm, where he re-discovered his game. Budy was a point-per-game scorer in 31 games, helping to lead the team to the postseason. According to NCAA transfer rules, Budy will have to sit out a year, even though he left DU mid-season, so he will return to the Storm next season.
Even as an overage prospect coming off and up-and-down season, Budy is considered a possible draft selection later this month. In fact, he was ranked No. 155 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, putting him in that sixth/seventh-round range. A pass-first, play-making winger, Budy is a creative offensive player and his quick commitment to North Dakota shows NHL scouts that he is a hot commodity in college hockey. It would not be a shock to see a team take a late-round flier on him.
Fans of North Dakota will be excitingly watching the NHL Draft this year (and next). The 2019 recruiting class includes goaltender Cameron Rowe (#4 NA Goalie), forwards Shane Pinto (#28 NA Skater), Judd Caulfield (#67 NA Skater), and defenseman Luke Bast (#137 NA Skater), not to mention Philadelphia Flyers prospect center Gavin Hain. Coming in 2020 are Budy, fellow forwards Harrison Blaisdell (#80 NA Skater) and Massimo Rizzo (#84 NA Skater), and defenseman Cooper Moore (#88 NA Skater), as well as a number of possible 2020 Draft prospects. With that talent influx, more promising players are surely on their way soon. Things are looking up for North Dakota.