He went 127 games in the NHL without a goal. He scored four goals and managed 11 points in 51 games this past season. At 5-foot 9-inches and 187 lbs, he’ll never instate the fear of God into any opponent. His biggest asset is and will always be his speed. He will have to rely on good positioning and an active stick in order to check opponents, and will need the confidence to skate out of his zone in order to make a decent living in the NHL. But what does the future hold for Victor Mete in the Montreal Canadiens’ organisation?
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that Ben Chiarot would be ahead of Mete in the team’s depth chart but few thought that by now, Brett Kulak would still be ahead of him by now. Mete was even relegated to third pairing on the right side during these COVID Cup playoffs, and his natural spot given to career AHLer Xavier Ouellet. With the recent signing of Alexander Romanov, whom the Habs burnt a year off his ELC just to get the experience of practicing with the team for a few weeks, it leaves more questions than answers about the future of Mete in the organisation.
Strong left side
The competition is far from over for the 22 year-old Woodbridge, ON native. Ouellet should not be a threat for him next season but others will. Romanov will be pushing and Otto Leskinen is just about ready to step in as well. Both are left-handed.
In the system, you will find a strong prospect pool at that position as well. Mattias Norlinder is a lefty. So are Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble. Then add Gianni Fairbrother and Jacob LeGuerrier at that position and you’ll find difficult for the diminutive but charismatic young man to stick to the lineup.
A right side not so deep
On the other side of the ice, the Canadiens are not as deep. What’s a bit alarming about it is the fact that the team’s best two defensemen are getting long in the tooth. Shea Weber just turned 35 and Jeff Petry, who will turn 32 in December, is a pending UFA at the end of next season. Those two each log over 23 minutes a game for the Habs.
While encouraging, the future is far from certain for 23 year-old Noah Juulsen, due to his injury. While only 21 and having a bright future, young Cale Fleury will be hard pressed to stick to the top-4 expecting him to play top pairing is unrealistic. Josh Brook is likely the right defense prospect with the most upside although his development is going a bit slower than anticipated. He is in good hands in Laval however.
|Left handed||Right handed|
|Ben Chiarot||Shea Weber|
|Brett Kulak||Jeff Petry|
|Victor Mete||Cale Fleury|
|Alexander Romanov||Noah Juulsen|
|Xavier Ouellet||Josh Brook|
|Gustav Olofsson||Arvid Henrikson|
With 12 picks at the upcoming NHL Draft, eight of them in the first four rounds, you can expect some right-handed defensemen to be selected by the Canadiens. Yes, they will pick the best player available but with so many picks, they’ll be in a good position to take calculated risks, particularly in the later rounds.
A younger league
It seems like not only do young prospects make the NHL sooner than ever, but they are having an impact much earlier than before. In Montreal, you have a Nick Suzuki (21) and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (20) centering two of your top three lines. Then you have Max Domi (25) and Jake Evans (24) completing the depth chart at the centre position.
When you look around the league though, what stands out most is the young defensemen having an impact on their team. Just in these COVID Cup playoffs, four of the top 16 scoring leaders are defensemen under the age of 25. Three of them are 21 or younger.
Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen (21) is tied for 2nd in the NHL with 21 points in 16 games. Then you have Vegas’ Shea Theodore (25) 10th with 16 points in 15 games, followed by Canucks’ stand out Quinn Hughes (20) in the 12th spot with 16 points in 17 games. Last but not least, Colorado has Cale Makar (21) and his 15 points in as many games, sitting tied with three other players in 13th place. 22 year-old Samuel Girard also finds himself amongst the top scorers on defense with 10 points in 15 games. All of them ahead of Tampa Bays perennial Norris candidate Victor Hedman!
Can the Habs find those gems? Sure they can. As a matter of fact, they might already have some in the system. Odds are that they are on the left side, and they have some work to do on the right side of that defense. As for Mete, he will dictate his future with the team through his play. Go Habs Go!