Updated July 23, 2021 - 10:04 pm
The scouting reports on Zach Dean put out by many NHL draft analysts indicated that he was more skilled than his modest point totals in junior hockey reflected.
The Golden Knights also saw Dean’s offensive upside, selecting the 18-year-old center with the No. 30 pick in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday.
“As the picks kept coming off the board, we were really hopeful leading up to our own that he would be left standing,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said on on a videoconference call. “He’s competitive and we really like (his) talent. He’s got talent. He’s got skill and that’s what we want to draft with those high picks.”
The Knights stood pat in a first round dominated by University of Michigan players while a handful of trades took place before and during the event, which continues Saturday with the second through seventh rounds.
It might be a while before fans get a glimpse of Dean, who played for Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season and is expected to return to the Olympiques for at least one more season of seasoning.
McCrimmon also confirmed the Knights will not hold a development camp for the second straight year, meaning Dean won’t be able to visit Las Vegas and meet members of the organization in person.
“(I) Look forward to giving him a call, welcoming him to the organization and getting to meet him and bring him in,” McCrimmon said.
Dean, who compared his style of play to Islanders forward Mathew Barzal, posted 10 goals and 20 points in 23 games with Gatineau after he was named to the QMJHL’s all-rookie team in 2019-20.
In two seasons in junior, Dean has 28 goals and 66 points in 80 games. He was ranked the No. 21 North American skater by Central Scouting.
“He’s a player that we had really good coverage on. Really confident, comfortable that we knew the player both as a person and also the opportunity to watch him play on as many occasions as we did,” McCrimmon said. “We think he does that type of ability to remain as a centericeman.”
Dean was one of 51 players invited to attend Canada’s National Junior Team summer development camp that runs Wednesday through Aug. 4 on the Tsuut’ina Nation near Calgary.
Playing with Canada at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Dean tied for his team’s scoring lead with Shane Wright, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft.
Dean watched the draft with friends and family at a hotel ballroom in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where, unfortunately, his WiFi connection was spotty at best.
“It’s pretty special to be able to experience it with all of them,” Dean said.
As a result, Dean’s postdraft media availability didn’t reveal much about the Knights’ newest selection. The 6-foot, 176-pounder noted his skating and work ethic as two of his standout qualities on the ice.