With the 30th pick of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights have selected Zach Dean from the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL.
About Zach Dean
Zach Dean’s production has come into question during his draft year. While 20 points in 23 games isn’t as strong compared to other draft-eligible players’ numbers, it hasn’t affected his overall play. Dean’s drive, ability to gain possession and strong control of the puck is what makes him a special player. His awareness and vision makes him a threat in the offensive zone as he’s always a catalyst for quality scoring opportunities.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“There will always be a place in hockey for a player who is smart and works hard, two attributes that can be attributed to Gatineau Olympiques’ centre Zach Dean. The former fourth overall pick by the Gatineau Olympiques has spent very little time actually playing hockey when compared to prospects in drafts past, racking up just over a full season of work in the QMJHL.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“When you take a look at the statsheet, you might be wondering why Dean is even considered to be a first-round talent. Coming into a draft, some players will impress you with their point or goal totals like Jack Quinn last year, but others come in and steal the show in a different way. Dean is certainly not the statsheet stuffer like others, but his hockey IQ, skating, and work ethic are very impressive.
“After the 2019-20 QMJHL season was cut short due to COVID-19, Dean was named to the league’s all-rookie team alongside fellow 2021 NHL Entry Draft eligibles Zachary L’Heureux and Zachary Bolduc. He also participated in the World U17 Tournament with Team Canada Black in 2020 where he and Shane Wright were tied for the team lead in points.
“When Dean is on the ice and the puck is in the offensive zone, things happen. The points aren’t there for him right now (as of this writing), but he is always busy in the opponent’s zone. If there is a loose puck, he is on it. If there is a scoring chance in tight of the net, Dean will be there. If he needs to screen the goalie, he will be there and be very happy to do so. But with all of the good, come drawbacks.
“By no means could you consider Dean perfect. If the game was all about offence, he would be projected much higher than he is right now. He has a tendency to float around the defensive zone and fly the zone early, creating opportunities for the other team. These issues could be the thing that causes scouts to raise some red flags. It likely isn’t because of a poor effort, but rather something just not clicking.
“Expecting Dean to be elite is probably a little bit unattainable, but you should expect a player who is going to give you everything he has on a night-to-night basis. Even Connor McDavid struggled in his own zone at times in junior hockey, but he has managed to improve upon that as he has gotten older. Dean will certainly be a pest to play against going forward.”
How This Affects the Golden Knights’ Plans
The Golden Knights add to their centre depth by taking a very reliable and aggressive style player with Dean. He plays a strong puck-possession style game and has the ability to take control of the game every shift with his speed and vision. He keeps plays alive and is always a factor in the offensive zone, even if he doesn’t find the score sheet as much as he should.
Given that he has the style of play that many teams are looking for, Dean’s going to be a great piece for the Golden Knights in the future. Already with players like Peyton Krebs and Brendan Brisson in the system, Dean is going to be a big part of their future.
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.