In an otherwise worrying pre-season for the Montreal Canadiens, Victor Mete, has stepped out of the shadows and emerged as a top prospect far sooner than most fans imagined. Mete, 19, was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 100th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He has played with the London Knights since 2014 and last year scored 44 points in 50 games. A key member of London’s Memorial Cup-winning team in 2016, Mete contributed offensively during the 2017 playoffs as well.
Montreal Canadiens to Watch: Victor Mete
Last spring, Mete signed a three-year entry-level contract with Montreal. He has surprised many by staying in Montreal longer than other higher ranked prospects. Skating with Shea Weber on the defacto top line has led some to speculate he could suit up for the Habs in at least a few games this year. Part of this is because of Mete’s skill. Most of it is due to necessity.
Smaller Skilled Defenseman
LWOH’s own Charlie O’Connor-Clarke assessed the Woodbridge, ON native. He reports Mete is a smallish left-shot defenseman, who can skate like the wind, and has a good first pass out of the zone. He concludes:
Mete has the potential to be a top-four defender in the NHL. He will have several challenges to overcome, not the least of which is his height, and developing the strength to be able to effectively defend against the cycle and clear the crease. If he can develop those areas, he has the type of puck-moving ability that teams are looking for.
Part of his success may be that he looks and plays like defenseman of the future. This is important on a team inexplicably committed to the defenseman of the past. Victor Mete and Jakub Jerabek are two of just a few in the Canadiens organization with the kind of skills that could complement Shea Weber. Weber, a power play machine, is still without a reliable partner for the start of the season. As a slower defensive defenseman, Weber would ideally partner with could skate and move the puck the way Roman Josi did in Nashville.
Top Four Defence
Despite the long list of the defenseman invited to camp, few have looked good this preseason. No one can doubt the gaping hole on defense. The Canadiens need a puck-moving defenseman besides Jeff Petry in the top four. The injury to Noah Juulsen, who fractured his foot and is out for at least 6 weeks, means Mete may be the best option short term. Let that sink it. As Szporer notes:
“Out of sheer practicality, Noah Juulsen may have made more sense to stay. One year older than Mete, Juulsen, who had similarly received praise from Julien, shoots right, which is where the Habs are shorthanded.”
The reality is Victor Mete is not likely to stay with the Canadiens for the full season. He is probably too young and inexperienced to reasonably expect him to step up on the big stage this year. In the meantime, he is benefiting from invaluable experience and reassuring fans that the defensive prospect cupboard is not bare.
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