Spotlight: Zach Dean
Spotlight is a feature highlighting NHL Draft eligibles and giving a peek into what makes them an intriguing prospect ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft. This edition features Gatineau Olympiques forward Zach Dean.
- Date of Birth: January 4, 2003
- Position: C
- Team: Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
- Height: Six-foot
- Weight: 176 pounds
- Shoots: L
Had a very prolific rookie season in the Q
Dean, one of three draft-eligible QMJHL Zach’s in 2021 (with L’Heureux and Bolduc), was the former fourth overall pick in 2019. Dean racked up 46 points in 57 games last season with the Olympiques, good enough to finish sixth in rookie season and land on the QMJHL’s all-rookie team in a truncated year. Dean also had the opportunity that year to represent Canada at the U17 World Hockey Challenge, where he co-led Canada Black in scoring.
Up and down draft year
Though the pandemic made almost every eligible player’s draft season difficult, Dean also missed the start of the QMJHL season due to an injury, and only ended up playing 23 regular season games this year. Still, Dean managed to record 10 goals and 20 points during the regular season, and added 2 points in 4 games as Gatineau was eliminated in the first round by the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Should be a first-round pick in 2021
Although Dean should be a first round pick this summer, missing games in an already shortened draft year might have hurt his draft stock. However, Dean has a diverse skill set that will benefit him; he’s a great skater with excellent vision and puckhandling skills, and processes the game quickly. Dean’s creativity, skill and physical play will undoubtedly make an NHL team very happy down the road.
What the experts say
“Entering the season, he was in the conversation for the top-QMJHL prospect with Zach L’Heureux and Zach Bolduc but fell out of that discussion. It’s time to put him back there. Dean looks absolutely dominant on the ice, like a man among boys. He’s absolutely fearless in his play… Overall, I get Tim Stutzle vibes from Dean. Maybe not quite at the same level, but that style of play. Expect a big finish in his season as it seems like he’s really found his game.” – FCHockey scout Josh Bell
“I liked what I saw from Dean in this game and he’s looking more and more dangerous with each game I watch him and is rising up my draft board. His offense can definitively translate to the middle-six of an NHL team, but I think if he’s not put in that situation to succeed he could struggle to live up to his offensive outlook.” – FCHockey scout Dylan Galloway
“Dean is super skilled and creative offensive threat who used his magnificent stick-handling abilities and impressive mobility to dominate 1v1s and plays along the boards. The smooth-skating forward showcased the ability to break down skating lanes and dodge pressure elusively thanks to his cutting-edge agility… Overall, Dean is an extremely creative and skilled prospect who possesses all the tools and potential to become an impactful player at the next level. He’ll just need the right environment and support.” – FCHockey scout Andy Lehoux
"By constantly gravitating around the disc, Dean bets on having more puck touches to empower his quick hands and feet to create for others through traffic."
I explained why Zach Dean jumped 19 spots in our most recent ranking 👀👇 #2021NHLDraft https://t.co/djoVzU3EuB
— Andy Lehoux (@Andylehoux1) April 26, 2021
What might just stand out the most to me is his puckhandling and possession. I get some Stützle vibes from him at times. He has the puck on a string and just looks so much better than the opposition at times: pic.twitter.com/XVcSn0yrvK
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) March 13, 2021
Lauren Kelly is a graduate of Ryerson University’s RTA: Sport Media program, currently working as a digital video producer at Sportsnet and an OHL regional scout for Elite Prospects. Her favorite CHL teams are the Moose Jaw Warriors and Halifax Mooseheads. She has done radio color commentary work for Mississauga Steelheads games and you can find her past written work at Fansided and SB Nation websites.