Victor Mete is entering his third professional season, and his time in the NHL can be seen as both a positive and a negative. It’s not common for a player to be an NHL veteran at the age of 21, even more so a defenceman under 6’0”. Having said that, the pressure for Mete to show more than he has is increasing despite the fact he has a lot of developing to do.
Birthplace: Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada
Date of birth: June 7, 1998
Drafted: 2016 (100th overall)
Weight: 183 lbs.
Team: Montreal Canadiens (NHL)
Mete entered his second NHL season with a lot less responsibility than his first when he started the season next to Shea Weber. However, next to Weber is exactly where he ended up but this time you could argue it was on merit as opposed to being the default choice.
In his second professional season, the Ontario native scored his first professional goal. Only it happened in the American Hockey League. While his detour to the AHL seems like a speed bump, it may have actually been the thing to turn around his season.
After he came back to the NHL, he was much more confident and he earned more responsibility as the year went on. The Canadiens’ defence is still very much a numbers game, but it would be hard to imagine Mete being forced back to the AHL if he was able to keep his play at that level.
Mete’s votes were all over the top 11, with four votes in the top four and two votes outside the top 10. Despite this, his average falls right about where you would expect it to although there isn’t much separating the players in this range.
I had Mete at fifth, and the main reason for that is that he is a top-four defenceman in the NHL and will likely be there again this season. His game has grown and at 21 he still has a lot of potential. It’s possible that players I ranked behind him end up passing him but until they prove it, I can’t put potential alone ahead of a guy who will be a major part of the Canadiens’ success this season and going forward.
Marc: To me, Mete has all the tools to become an impact top-four defender. He’s quick, he’s aggressive on the forecheck, and he’s extremely talented at carrying the puck. Yes, he hasn’t scored and his offensive upside isn’t as high as we hoped it would be. Still, I believe he could become a reliable 25- to 30-point defenceman who can push the pace with his speed and vision. He broke into the league as a 19-year-old and keeps improving year over year.
Justin: I also believe Mete is a top-four defenceman, but with the pool of young players Montreal now has available, projecting to play near the top of an NHL lineup no longer guarantees you a top-10 position.
On defence alone, I think Josh Brook and Alexander Romanov will become more impactful members of the organization, and aren’t far away from doing so. Mattias Norlinder could also enter that conversation with another strong season in Sweden (I placed him 12th this year). Brook and Romanov could challenge for top-pairing consideration and time on special teams and do very well in those situations, and that’s why they’re now ahead — especially with the new procedure of determining which player you’d be more comfortable losing from the list.
With Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki joining the organization and looking like solid bets to take key top-six roles, maybe no later than next season, along with Ryan Poehling and Cayden Primeau increasing their stock with another impressive year before turning pro, it’s more that Mete got passed on my ballot (fifth in 2018) by several players rather than him falling down the order.
Top 25 Under 25 History
Mete’s path is an interesting one, entering the ranking at #19 after being drafted in the fourth round in 2016. He moved up to 12 before making his NHL debut the next year. Last year he entered the top five before dropping two spots this season.
Like some others in the organization, Mete’s drop has more to do with the players around him than it does his play. He played as expected, but the emergence of Jesperi Kotkaniemi (obligatory mint reference), Ryan Poehling, and addition of Nick Suzuki was the reason for his slight fall in the ranking.
History of #6
|2015||Jacob de la Rose|
You don’t have to watch a lot of Victor Mete to notice his major strength: He’s an outstanding skater. Let’s face it, you don’t make your NHL debut at 19 at the size he is if you don’t have one major calling card.
Victor Mete has some wheels man. pic.twitter.com/dX1RyhF4in— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 8, 2019
This one tool allows him to excel in several parts of the game. He’s able to move the puck out of his own zone, and into the opposition zone easier than most. He’s able to get back into the play and recover because of it, and he’s able to avoid trouble.
It goes without saying that skating is an important tool to play hockey, but when you’re as good at it as Mete is, it’s a huge benefit and a reason he’s been able to be as successful as he has been to this point.
Despite his lack of actual production in the goal column and low point totals, he’s also a very good puck mover. Moving the puck goes beyond scoring goals and getting assists and his skating and smart decision making allows him to do this.
For as long as he has played hockey, Mete has heard that he’s too small. It’s still an issue for players his size, especially in his own zone and in front of his net. He can get outmuscled at times and is prone to rushing a little bit.
His shot is not very good, as evidenced by his zero goals in 120 NHL games. But it is something he is working on. He spent time this summer working with Tim Turk, a skills coach who specializes in shooting. Turk works with many NHL players, including Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher who had to relearn how to shoot the puck after a couple of hand injuries.
Mete is expected to start the season in the National Hockey League, although the exact role he will play is up in the air. One can assume the top three left-handed shots on the Canadiens defence to start the year will be Mete, Brett Kulak, and Ben Chiarot in some order.
This season for Mete will be important in terms of evaluating his spot in the NHL. With the number of defencemen coming up in the system, this season will go a long way in determining if Mete is cemented in the team’s top six or if he is on the bubble and ripe to get his spot taken away by another up-and-comer.
It’s not that this season is make-or-break — it never is for someone as young as he is — but a strong showing this year will likely silence the critics who say he isn’t cut out for a major role at the NHL level. But as a smaller defenceman, he’ll always have to prove his worth over others.
Twelve months from now, it’s possible we’re talking about another drop for Mete because of the emergence of others around him. Or, it could be Mete who forces his way into the top five conversation once more.