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  • 2021 NHL Draft: Zach Dean is a lean, mean two-way machine


    Zach Dean — or Zachary if you’re feeling spicy — has everything you are looking for in a high-floor forward; blinding speed, able to process the game at a high level, a workhorse, and can be trusted to play the game at both ends of the ice.

    Originally from the metropolis of Grand Prairie, Alberta, Dean spent the last couple of seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. Sporting the ‘A’ this past season, Dean established himself as a top option on both the powerplay and penalty kill. While his offensive production is underwhelming for a top prospect — 20 points in 23 games — it’s still nothing to sneeze at.

    Six feet tall and 176 pounds, Dean has learned to use his size and speed to control and protect the puck. As his frame fills out and he grows into his lanky frame, his unique combination of skill and speed will be the key to making the jump to the next level.

    Pre-Draft Rankings

    #21 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

    #15 by Elite Prospects

    #22 by Craig Button/TSN

    #42 by Dobber Prospects

    #38 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic

    What Scouts are Saying

    - Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects

    - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

    - EliteProspects 2021 NHL Draft Guide

    Would He Fit In With The Wild?

    Culturally, I don't think there is a better fit out there—a two-way centre with speed, experience and effectiveness in all situations. Throw in a dash of making things happen to those around him, and I don’t think you could find a front office that doesn’t love Zach Dean and the way he plays.

    Could The Wild Get Him?

    Color me shocked if Dean falls beyond the top 20. While his potential ceiling is considerably lower than even those ranked behind, Dean seems like a can’t fail prospect. There’s a lot to love about his game, and the raw tools seem like a perfect fit for the NHL in its current iteration and where it will be in the future.

    A Minnesota Relation

    He wasn’t a member of the Wild for very long, but Dean reminds me so much of Matt Cullen. While the former St. Cloud alum was mostly seen as a penalty kill/face-off specialist in his twilight years, Cullen was an effective and productive player at the height of his powers.

    A reliable producer of 35-40 points for the bulk of his career, Cullen was a key contributor on three Stanley Cup-winning teams; 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes and back-to-back Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015-17.

    2021 NHL Draft Board


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