The Montreal Canadiens selected defenceman Victor Mete 100th overall in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft. Teams see potential with any pick, however, with a pick that late the player can become a bit of an afterthought. Mete has battled his way through the ranks and is now an NHL regular for the Habs.
An early punchline of his NHL career was his inability to score. He took 108 shots in his first 120 NHL games. None of these found their way to the back of the net. LastWordOnHockey’s Colton Osmond wrote about how Mete is destined to breakout. This season, he has already scored three goals on 20 shots. However, even despite the scoring, Victor Mete is becoming a very good player for the Canadiens.
Victor Mete Becoming Important For Montreal
Mete has averaged 18:02 minutes a night for the Habs this year. This is slightly up from last season’s 17:46. He has three goals and two assists for five points in his 15 games played. However, part of sustainability throughout a season is how well a player is playing past the points. It is what made Mete so encouraging the past few years as his underlying numbers were strong. So, what do they look like this season?
To do this, we can take a look at NaturalStatTrick. So far, Mete has a 50.81 CorsiFor Percentage (CF%), as well as a 54.47 ExpectedGoals Percentage (xGF%). He ranks fifth and third among Habs defencemen in those categories, respectively. What we can take from this is when he is on the ice the Habs are about even at controlling shot attempts, however, they out chance their opponents at 5v5. The quality is higher than the quantity for Mete.
From HockeyViz, we can take a look at how Victor Mete is performing in his own end this year.
As you can see, the Habs don’t let up much against in general. However, it is even more so the case with Mete on the ice. That massive chunk of blue right in the slot is a very good sign. It means that when Mete is out there the Habs let very little prime shots from in between the circles up.
Slot chances are some of the most dangerous in hockey. Goals can be scored from anywhere but when you let NHL shooters fire from the circles it is very difficult for a goalie to stop it. That massive hole of blue should be an encouraging sign for any Habs fan.
What should be even more encouraging for Montreal fans is that these numbers aren’t something new. On both ends of the ice, Mete has always been very strong. While his 16 goal pace may not continue, there is absolutely no reason to think that the Habs won’t continue to be solid offensively with him on the ice. Just because he is not scoring doesn’t mean the Habs aren’t getting chances. Take a look at last year’s offensive zone heat map to see how big of an impact Mete had.
The Habs were dangerous from anywhere at 5v5 last season but even more with Mete on the ice. Just because he wasn’t shooting the puck as much doesn’t mean he wasn’t helping. Using his vision and skill to move pucks into areas that the slot becomes open can be key. Getting large amounts of chances right in that slot area is the best way to score goals.
In terms of his numbers for xGF% and CF%, Mete had a 54.26xGF% and a 51.18CF%. Montreal was a strong possession team so Mete did rank last among the six regular defenders in CF%. However, in xGF% he ranked third. Once again, quality over quantity is the name of the game for Mete.
In both cases, it is good to see him in the positive aspects of things. It is very simple to understand yet so crucial, good things happen when you’re not playing in your end as much. Mete clearly helps the Habs stay in the offensive zone more than their own.
Transition Play and Room For Improvement
One of the things that Mete has succeeded in the past few years is his zone entries. From CJ Turtoro’s Viz of Corey Sznajder’s game tracking, we can see how well Victor Mete excels in possession entires.
Mete ranks in the 91st and 68th percentile in Possession Entry Percentage and Possession Entry per 60. These are both incredibly impressive for someone who was 19 and 20 when these stats were tracked. It helps to show just why Mete has such dominant showings in the offensive end, he can help bring the puck in and get everything started.
However, one area Mete could improve to make him that much more dangerous is the Penalty Kill. Last season, the Habs bled high danger shots with him on the ice. Just look at their on and off splits for Mete.
There’s a reason he played roughly 15% of the Habs total penalty kill minutes. It is hard for any team to have a very successful penalty kill giving up shots like that. However, one of their main penalty killers Jordie Benn is no longer with the team. Benn played over half of Montreal’s short-handed minutes last season. That departure has led to an opportunity for Mete to not only get more minutes but improve in them too.
This year, Mete has played closer to 30% of Montreal’s penalty kills. While he still isn’t a defensive specialist, there has been an improvement. That seems to be showing in his game and to his coach as he gets more usage. Continuing to work on the penalty kill and become an all-rounded player would be massive for the Habs and Mete.
Good Value Good Cost for Victor Mete
Mete still has things to work on, but his strengths are very encouraging. The Habs are a very good team when he is on the ice. This isn’t all him but it is for sure partly because of him. However, when it comes down to it, any team would take what Mete has given them out of a fourth-round player. He is on pace to play many NHL games and be a solid possession driver while he does.
The next step for Mete will be to develop other skills to take one more step forward. Currently, Shea Weber does a bunch of heavy lifting on that pair and Mete is a very nice complimentary piece. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this but the Canadiens will no doubt want Mete to take that extra step up. Being able to drive his own pair in a few year’s time should be the ultimate goal.
Regardless, what is clear for, is that Victor Mete is a steal for the Montreal Canadiens.