Zach Budish To Sign With Nashville Predators? (UPDATED x6)

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Zach Budish said just a few days ago, after the Gophers’ 3-2 overtime loss to Yale in the NCAA tournament, that he would be returning for a final season. But now the hockey world is buzzing about his signing with the Nashville Predators thanks to a tweet today by his teammate Eric Haula:

Zach Budish, a right-handed shot, put up 12 goals and 23 assists this season in 43 games for Minnesota. He’s exactly the kind of player the Preds have been missing the last few years, a big power forward who can do a lot of dirty work in front of opposing goalies.

The signing of the 6’3”, 215-pound forward hasn’t been confirmed by any NHL or Nashville Predators sources at this point. But if he is in fact on his way to Nashville, it will mark the culmination of a curious road to Music City.

Originally selected by the Preds in the second round, 41st overall, of the 2009 NHL draft, Zach Budish has dealt with two injuries over the last four years. He tore his ACL playing high school football the year before Nashville drafted him, and in 2010 he only played in seven games due to being hurt in a single-vehicle moped accident. That gave Budish an extra year of NCAA eligibility, which he said after the loss to Yale last week he was planning to use. But not everyone thought he would hold to that statement.

“Zach graduates this spring,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after the Gophers lost to Yale. “Nashville does want to sign him. It would be great if he comes back [as a grad student], but we understand if he doesn’t. … We will lose some good players, good kids.”

We’ll be watching this story as it develops further.

UPDATE 1: Haula’s tweet has been deleted:

Erik Haula's tweet about Zach Budish has been deleted

There used to be a tweet about Zach Budish on Erik Haula’s Twitter account living at this URL.

UPDATE 2: There might not be any confirmation yet, but there’s at least some reason to think Zach Budish is Nashville-bound. The other player Erik Haula mentioned in his since-deleted tweet, Gophers defenseman Nate Schmidt, has signed with the Washington Capitals.

UPDATE 3: TwinCities.com characterizes Budish in its “DON’T PRINT THAT” section as “headed to Nashville,” where he’ll receive a $180,000 signing bonus and a $67,500 minor-league salary. And the Star-Tribune, in its article about Schmidt signing with the Caps, says that Budish is “expected to sign.” But there’s still no official confirmation. Perhaps tomorrow.

UPDATE 4: Zach Budish will sign with the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, according to Jim Diamond of Examiner.com. “After Budish signs the Amateur Try-Out (ATO) agreement with the Predators, he will be assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League,” writes Diamond.

UPDATE 5: There’s still no official announcement yet, but according to Renaud Lavoie, Budish has signed with the team:

UPDATE 6: Budish has signed his amateur tryout agreement and skated with the Milwaukee Admirals, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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