St. Louis Blues: How did Zach Dean fare in 2023-24?

Drafted in the late first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, Zach Dean is expected to perform at the NHL level. Did he meet expectations in the 2023-24 season with his performance in the AHL and some NHL action?
St Louis Blues v Ottawa Senators
St Louis Blues v Ottawa Senators / Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo/GettyImages

Much like baseball, professional hockey is a game of constant development and growth.

Zach Dean, 21, was originally drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2021 but was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Ivan Barbashev.

The trade made sense, as Dean was a promising prospect, and the St. Louis Blues were experiencing a bit of an identity crisis and seeking to rebuild their team.

Barbashev showed promise during his time in St. Louis, especially in 2021-22, where he tallied 60 points.

The expectations for Dean, therefore, sit at a high level.

Will Zach Dean have a significant impact in the NHL anytime soon?

During the 2023-24 season, Dean had limited ice time in the NHL, moving from Springfield to St. Louis near the season’s end.

St. Louis Blues

2023-24: 9 games, 0 points. 10:33 TOI.

It’s not entirely fair to analyze his numbers in 9 games with such limited time on the ice, though compared to Zack Bolduc, who played in 25 games, it’s fair to say Dean underperformed.

The best analysis of Dean’s 2023-24 career is reviewing his time in Springfield.

Springfield Thunderbirds

2023-24: 49 games, 9 points, 5 assists, 14 points.

Again, the numbers weren’t entirely impressive, but 2023-24 was Dean’s first year in the AHL, having previously played four seasons in the QMJHL.

Dean is the definition of a prospect who needs substantial development and coaching. It might have even been premature to send him to St. Louis in 2023-24, but he did make a presence on the ice in terms of his physicality.

“While Dean never scored nor recorded an assist, he still won 50 percent of his faceoffs, landed 10 body checks, and stole the puck five times, indicating that he will be a remarkable lower-liner in 2024-25, assuming he makes the cut,” wrote Todd Matthews.

Does Dean’s skillset have a place on the current roster? Probably not. Even though he might bring physicality and the ability to win faceoffs, he might be better served to continue his development in the AHL.

The verdict is still out on Dean and what's next for him, but he's the ideal candidate to strengthen his skills in the developmental league.