Every year, on every team, you’ll find players on the bubble of being in the regular line-up or a healthy scratch. When you’re in the first group, you must perform and work hard to stay in the line-up. When you’re in the second situation, you work hard in practice and hope to get your opportunity to show that you belong in the line-up. But what happens when you’re young and you’re not given that opportunity? That’s the situation Victor Mete finds himself in right now.
Mete is only 22 years old and he’s starting his fourth season in the NHL. Back in September, we wrote about how his spot in the future was less than certain. That was before signing Joel Edmundson and Alexander Romanov coming to Montreal. You also have a few College players who will soon be ready to make their push. In the meantime, Mete is sitting eating hot dogs while watching his teammates play.
I am of the school of thoughts who feel like you cannot sit a young player for 8-10 consecutive games. Young players need to play in order to continue developing and that, no matter the reason. Sitting long term is not only bad, but can sometimes contribute to a prospect not reaching the hopes an organisation had on them. When doing so, teams are shooting themselves in the foot.
For one thing, those young players can’t work on improving in games situations, earn experience. That goes without saying. Also, sitting a young player for a long time diminishes his trade value. There was a time when Jarred Tinordi and Nikita Scherbak were good young prospect. Both former first round picks by the Canadiens fell victims of league rules and questionable organisation’s decisions.
Before everyone hurries to tell us the reasons why those two didn’t have a good career, let’s remember one thing: at the time, when they sat, they were still both considered good prospect. But sitting long term not only hampered their development, it killed their trade value. The fact that they were kept in the stands isn’t the only reasons for their demise, but was an avoidable contributing factor. They’re starting to do the same with Mete.
After training camp this year, the Canadiens had too many defensemen. They proceeded to send down the players who didn’t have to clear waivers. But then, they were left with two guys who needed to go through waivers to be sent down or to the Taxi Squad. Noah Juulsen had missed most of last season and several games the year before due to his eye injury. Mete, a young, fast skating three-year “veteran”, would not have cleared waivers. So they put Juulsen there and the Florida Panthers surprised by claiming him.
In the cases of Tinordi and Scherbak, they were kept up for the same reason they’re keeping Mete: not wanting to lose them to waivers. But history is starting to repeat itself with the young defenseman. They’re feeding him hot dogs every game (whether we agree with the reason or not) at the risk of ruining him and/or his trade value.
In my humble opinion, there are three ways the Canadiens could or should deal with this situation:
- Play him once in a while (rotation base, or here and there)
- Put him on waivers to play in Laval (he would likely be claimed)
- Trade him and get a veteran as a 7th defenseman, like Christian Folin was
The option of keeping him in the stands is actually not a smart option. You’re ruining an asset, a good asset. You’re not doing your club or the player any favour. It’s a lose-lose situation. Marc Bergevin, the GM, made the decision to keep him. It’s to Claude Julien, the coach, to ensure that he doesn’t ruin the asset. Go Habs Go!