On the bubble is a series examining the players in Montreal Canadiens training camp who are fighting for a roster spot. With limited space on the Habs main roster, there is not enough room for all of them. This series looks to figure out who has the best chance of making the team.
Next up: Victor Mete
On the Bubble: Victor Mete
Victor Mete is turning heads at Canadiens training camp. The 19-year-old came into camp with little expectations after an underwhelming rookie camp. Initially, the buzz around Mete was because he was paired with Shea Weber on the top pairing of the Habs defence to start training camp. Now it is his play that is generating all the buzz.
While still a long shot to make the team, his play this pre-season is making the decision for the coaches much more difficult. The Canadiens are lacking offensive defencemen and top pair defence partner for Shea Weber. Asking Mete to make the jump from junior hockey to the NHL is a big ask, especially in a top-four role, but he has not looked out of place this pre-season. In fact, he has played so well that he played himself into this series. (A great honour for him, I’m sure)
Victor Mete’s strength is in his offensive game. Much of that is derived from his skating and speed. Mete is able to skate away from players with ease on the ice. He uses his speed to turn defence to offence very quickly. Mete likes to have the puck on his stick and usually leads the rush out of his own end. When he has the puck, his speed backs off the opposition which can lead to opportunities for him and his teammates. Even if he gets caught deep, he has the speed to recover and get back into position on defence.
What makes Mete so dangerous is his offensive instincts. His skating allows him to move throughout the offensive zone with ease. This opens up opportunities for his team. Mete is as comfortable on the blueline as he is behind the net or crashing the crease. His excellent passing allows him to set up scoring chances where ever he has the puck in the offensive zone.
On defence, Mete is a smart player. To make up for his lack of size, Mete uses his stick to great effect in the defensive zone. If he sees an opportunity to gain body position and protect the puck, he will take it.
Victor Mete is small. Listed at 5′ 10″ and 174 pounds, Mete needs to bulk up some if he wants to be effective in the NHL. This can lead to issues in the defensive zone. In junior, bigger forwards were able to drive past him with ease. They would use their size to keep him away from the puck. He can also have a difficult time along the wall. While he does possess a good stick on defence, he is over-matched in battles in the corners and dirty areas.
For all of his offensive prowess, Mete does not possess a great shot. While he gets his shot through to the net, he lacks a powerful slap shot that other defencemen possess. Mete will need to add some muscle to put some power behind his shot.
Victor Mete is turning heads a Canadiens training camp. For a team that was thought to have a shallow prospect pool, it is encouraging that Mete is stepping up. So far, he has not looked out of place in pre-season games. And while that makes some fans optimistic, it is important to note that it is still only the pre-season. Mete is far from a finished product.
Mete is drawing comparisons to Boston’s Torey Krug, another diminutive offensive defencemen. Krug was able to develop into a great defenceman in the NHL, after honing his game and bulking up some. Lucky for Canadiens fans that Krug honed his game with Claude Julien as his coach.
Victor Mete has given Habs fans a reason to be optimistic. His strong pre-season has shown he has the skill set to excel at the NHL level. His size, however, is a drawback right now. He needs to add some muscle to his frame so he can withstand the grueling NHL season. Still, Mete has done enough to warrant starting the season in Montreal. Unless he plays otherworldly, the Canadiens are unlikely to keep him with the team all year. So don’t expect his NHL run to be anything more than a sample. Mete will be well served to return to London for his final year of Junior hockey. He is also a strong bet to make Canada’s World Junior team this year as well. The future looks bright for the former fourth-round pick, but he is not quite ready yet.
Embed from Getty Images