The Ottawa Senators are no strangers to the waiver wire, as the 2021 NHL season has been full of movement between the NHL roster and the various taxi squads league wide. Today, the Senators claimed Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete from waivers. The 22-year old native of Woodbridge, Ontario made his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season as a 19-year old, a rare feat for a Canadien. Over the course of the last four seasons, he’s played in 185 games, recording 34 points over that span.
Mete joins a Senators roster who on the same day shipped out both Mike Reilly, Braydon Coburn and Erik Gudbranson. So opportunity for Mete is knocking loudly. According to several sources, he is likely to make his debut tonight against the Winnipeg Jets, so it won’t be long until we see his first bit of action in the nation's capital.
So, what do you get with Mete? Listed at 5’9,184 lbs, he is very undersized for the position he plays, but has incredible speed when allowed time to accelerate. He is also a darling of the analytics community, who claim Mete is one of the best puck movers at 5v5 in the NHL. Without getting into the debate between analytics and the eye-test, Mete is realistically a bottom-pairing, undersized, offensive defenseman. While saying this, he is a fantastic skater who does have the ability to drive possession and enter the zone at a top rate. In this regard, the analytics do have a point. In limited sample sizes, he has shown an ability to be able to drive the offense on a crisp breakout pass or zone entry. However, there are significant issues surrounding his play.
The problems with Mete’s game revolve around his production, and his ability in his own end. He works hard, that goes without saying, but he just did not put up the production necessary to warrant a spot in the Canadiens lineup. Mete doesn’t have any ability to shoot the puck, nor any power behind it. With only four goals over his career, all of which came last season, the production just isn’t there. When watching Mete’s career in Montreal, you’ll notice how often he loses battles against bigger, stronger forwards. To make up for this, Mete does have a big advantage in speed, but when he loses the foot race, he has no chance. You saw this in essence on April 8th, in Mete’s final game as a Canadien. He was beaten cleanly by Trevor Lewis on an odd man rush, and could not compete with him physically, leading to a goal.
Mete’s game is very much one dimensional, which is based on speed and puck possession. When that is lost, Mete becomes a serious physical liability to the team. This is also present in his limited minutes. Whether or not that is an indictment against Mete or the Canadiens coaching and management is still up for debate, but he has yet to consistently average more than third pairing minutes across his career.
The Senators do have an opportunity to revitalize Mete’s career. He does have the potential to be a consistent figure on an NHL blueline. However, there needs to be a degree of caution in how he is deployed. Mete very well could be an excellent fit as a bottom-pairing player who drives possession. He could also be used as a player who could find a niche on the power-play. Not as a scoring option, but as a breakout tool and possession driver. Mete also needs to work on his own game. Obviously, he cannot change his own physical attributes, other than gaining more muscle to be able to contend with bigger forwards. He needs to work on his offensive abilities, including his shot, positioning, and awareness
With all this said, I do believe this is a strong move for Ottawa. Mete is only 22-years old, and has three years of NHL experience. While he struggled to maintain a spot on the Canadiens blueline, he has a chance for a fresh start in Ottawa. If the Senators are successful in their endeavour, they could get a very competent offensive defenseman who can provide speed and effective breakouts from their own zone. If it doesn’t work out, he is an RFA at the end of the season, and the Senators are free to either qualify him and keep trying, or allow him to go to free agency.
Whether or not this move works out for the Senators, it is a situation where low risk can turn into a substantial reward for the present and in the future.