Golden Knights Continue Their Draft Trend with Dean

The Vegas Golden Knights entered the 2021 NHL Entry Draft with the 30th overall pick in the draft. Leading up to the draft, the Golden Knights traded Cody Glass, one of their former first-round draft picks, to the Nashville Predators for former second-overall draft pick Nolan Patrick. This is worth noting as with that trade, Vegas has dealt all of their first-round prospect from their first draft. 

However, despite having this history of trading away top prospects, the Golden Knights have also made an identity of developing players. With players such as Nicolas Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Nic Roy and Keegan Kolesar seemingly breaking out this past season, it proves that Vegas understands how to develop their youth. 

Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide

This development haven has a proven track record and the Golden Knights are hoping it continues to produce top talent for them. With this being said, Vegas selected center Zach Dean with the 30th overall pick

Type of Player

Dean is a player that lends himself to the Golden Knights style of play. He is a good offensive player who looks to take advantage of countering the other team. Although this does tend for his defensive play to lack at times, his knowledge of the game helps make up for his one-way style of play. During his 2020-21 season with the Gatineau Olympiques, he produced 10 goals and 20 points in 23 games played. In addition to his play last season, Dean was also named to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League All-Rookie team in 2019-2020. During this season, Dean was able to produce 18 goals and 46 points.  

Zach Dean Gatineau Olympiques
Zach Dean of the Gatineau Olympiques looking to create offense with the puck (Steve Philippe)

Although his numbers are not the most explosive compared to other players in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, there is still potential for the young center. He fits into the trend of the Golden Knights looking for their next top center, as Vegas has taken a center with their first pick in every draft they have taken part in. However, if he wishes to find a spot in the stacked Golden Knights lineup, he will need to address his defense. Over his two-year career in the QMJHL, Dean holds a minus-22 rating. The Golden Knights are known for being one of the best teams in the defensive zone, so this appears like it will be an area of focus for the team and player moving forward.

Comparison to Current Golden Knights

Being a smaller center, Dean instantly can draw comparisons to William Karlsson in terms of build. Both players are not the most dominant physically but make up for their lack of size with their Hockey IQ and puck handling ability. Like Karlsson, Dean has proven himself to play the game at a fast pace with exceptional skill. Although the two differ when it comes to their play in the defensive end, they both have the ability to find the open man and create offense.

Another way Dean and Karlsson are similar is due to their ability to create offense with their feet. By being exceptional skaters, the two can create offense by creating space. Whether this is from breakaway speed or using their edges in tight areas, these players can produce even when the defense seems to have great coverage.

William Karlsson Vegas Golden Knights
William Karlsson has proven his worth to the Golden Knights during his tenure with the team (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Overall, the Golden Knights did not make a big splash in this year’s draft. However, they did acquire a good young hockey player who has the tools to make it to the NHL level. Although he may be a work-in-progress, this is nothing new to the Golden Knights. The team has made it known that they are among the best teams in the league in developing their youth and luckily for Dean, he found himself heading to Vegas.