Zach Dean Scouting Report: 2021 NHL Draft #37

Zach Dean Scouting Report

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Zach Dean Scouting Report. 

Drafted fourth overall in the 2019 QMJHL Draft by the Gatineau Olympiques, Zach Dean made an immediate impact in the league. He put up 18 goals and 28 assists for 46 points in 57 games in his rookie campaign in 2019-20. The performance meant that Dean was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team. He also played for Team Canada Black at that year’s Under-17 World Hockey Championships. Dean had a dominant performance, scoring three goals and four assists for seven points in five tournament games.

Like many prospects this year, Dean’s draft season was a difficult one. The QMJHL season was plagued with stops and starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the campaign, he was named an alternate captain for the Olympiques. Dean scored 10 goals as well as 10 assists for 20 points in 23 regular-season games. He also scored one goal and one assist for two points in four playoff games. Unfortunately, the Olympiques fell three games to one to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the first round of the modified QMJHL playoffs.

Dean was part of the Toronto Nationals Midget Team in 2018-19, helping the team to win the Telus Gold Cup.

Zach Dean Scouting Report

Centre — shoots Left
Born January 4th, 2003 — Grande Prairie, Alberta
Height 6’0″ — Weight 178 lbs [183 cm/81 kg]


Dean is an excellent skater. He has a very good first step as well as an excellent stride. This gives him very good acceleration. His ability to change speeds allows him to fool defenders with and without the puck. He also has very good top-end speed. If Dean gets a step on a defender, he is gone. He can also go wide on the defence and cut to the net. Dean’s agility and edgework are elite. He can cut on a dime, quickly changing directions to beat a defender. This makes him very hard to contain on the rush as well as in the offensive zone. Dean also has good balance. He is strong on the puck and wins battles along the boards and in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Dean is an outstanding stickhandler. He marries his stickhandling skill with his skating and can make plays while moving at top speed. Dean’s highlight reel contains several outstanding goals. He is very creative with the puck and will cut to the tough areas, dangle around a defenceman and get to the net. That creativity helps Dean in the transition game. He is very good at leading the rush and generating good zone entries. His quick hands also help Dean to be a goal scorer in tight. However, he can work on his shot. It has decent power but could be even harder if he can continue to pack muscle on his frame. The bigger issue is his accuracy though, as Dean has too many shots blocked or miss the net.

Dean can also play the role of playmaker. He has good vision as well as a strong hockey IQ. Dean anticipates where teammates and opponents are moving. Dean’s strong stickhandling allows him to protect the puck and control it in the cycle game. When his teammate cuts to a good scoring area, Dean can make a quick move, changing direction and opening up a passing lane. He then takes advantage in order to generate a scoring chance. Dean is also good at getting in quickly on the forecheck and creating turnovers.

Defensive Game

Dean is a very hard worker. He is willing to support the defence down low and back checks effectively. He also provides effective backpressure against the rush. Dean plays a very strong defensive game. He is always willing to battle along the boards and keeps his man outside on the cycle. However, he can have issues with bigger opponents. This should continue to improve as he matures. He does a very good job of staying with his man without the puck and using his stick to cut down passing lanes. Once a turnover is created, Dean is also quick to move the puck up the ice. He can skate the puck out of the zone as well as start the transition game with a good first pass. If a teammate creates a turnover, Dean can sometimes leave the zone a little early, which can be an issue if his teammate is looking for a shorter outlet pass.

Projection and Comparison

If Dean develops to his full potential, he could be a middle-six centre capable of providing some offence and driving play. The question remains as to how high his ceiling could be and if he can put up enough points to be a true second-line centre. He will get a couple of more years in the QMJHL before heading to the AHL. The longer he can develop and work on developing his skills, the better chance he will have to make a long-term impact in the NHL. His game is reminiscent of Mathew Barzal. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.


The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Zach Dean that are available on youtube and twitter.


Come back tomorrow for our latest NHL Draft article.


Zach Dean Scouting Report Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

BOISBRIAND, QC – OCTOBER 20: Zachary Dean #14 of the Gatineau Olympiques skates against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada at Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau on October 20, 2019 in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada defeated the Gatineau Olympiques 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)