Montreal Canadiens: Is Joel Edmundson Trade a Sign Victor Mete Is Gone?

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 02: Victor Mete Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 02: Victor Mete Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens acquired Joel Edmundson yesterday. Is that bad news for incumbent Victor Mete?

The Montreal Canadiens drafted a slightly undersized but skilled left defenceman in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft. That player, taken 100th overall would crack the NHL roster just a year later. He just finished playing out his entry-level contract, but the question is, will Victor Mete get another contract from the Habs?

When he was a 19 year old who could skate well and was decent at advancing the puck up ice to the team’s forwards it was thought he could quickly develop into a top four defenceman. Today, he is a 22 year old who can skate well and is decent at moving the puck up ice, but we are still wondering if he will ever turn into that top four defenceman.

Mete is just 5’9″ and under 190 pounds so he relies on his skating and offensive abilities to bring value to the Canadiens. However, he hasn’t been able to produce all that much offence. He didn’t score a single goal in either of his first two seasons and had four this year to go with 11 points in 51 games.

The Ontario native played all ten postseason games and had two assists. He played most of those games on the third pairing, playing his off side while Xavier Ouellet played on the left side. Brett Kulak and Ben Chiarot took on most of the minutes on the left side of the ice while being partnered with Shea Weber and Jeff Petry.

So, Mete was not considered a cornerstone piece to begin with. Next season, the Canadiens are bringing in prized prospect Alexander Romanov who is a left shot defender. They also just traded a 5th round pick for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Joel Edmundson who shoots left as well.

That is a crowded left side with Kulak and Chiarot having two years left on their deals. Mete is a restricted free agent and the question now needs to be asked: is he getting another contract from the Canadiens?

Things are getting pretty crowded on that left side. Chiarot and Kulak looked great in the postseason, and Romanov has been raved about by this management team for well over a year. Mete was already being pushed down the lineup and the Edmundson acquisition just adds another layer.

It leaves them with a lot of options on the left side. Looking at the players they have collected there, after adding 6’4″ and 215 pound Edmundson, one player certainly stands out as different from the rest. Chiarot is 6’3″ and 225 pounds, Kulak is 6’2″ and 190 pounds and Mete is just 5’9″.

Being tall isn’t everything, but the Canadiens could afford to be a little more difficult to play against. A lot of the times when Carey Price is “struggling” it is usually just a defence that is being overwhelmed and leaving excellent scoring chances to their goaltender to deal with on a consistent basis. Once other teams realize how easy it is to get to the Habs net and set up shot, they cycle the zone and fire cross-ice passes through the slot every other shift.

Last summer, Bergevin acquired a big left defender in Chiarot to help with this issue. The team’s defence was a bit too easy to play against and left far too many chances for other team’s in the slot. Not long before that signing, Karl Alzner was brought in to do the same thing.

Shea Weber, Cale Fleury, Noah Juulsen, Alexander Romanov all have that characteristic in common. They play hard, they play physical and nothing comes easy for the opposition when these big, bruising defenders are on the ice.

Victor Mete doesn’t quite fit into that category. That doesn’t mean he’s a terrible hockey player, but he doesn’t seem to be what Marc Bergevin and Claude Julien envision when they picture their blue liners.

A top six that features Weber, Petry, Fleury, Chiarot, Kulak and Edmundson with Juulsen available would be an enormous group of defenders. It seems to be what Bergevin and Julien want. We are reading between the lines a little bit here, but Victor Mete just doesn’t seem to be the prototype of what the Canadiens are currently looking for in a defenceman.

Next. Pros and cons of trading Danault. dark

Mete skates really well and is still young. He has lots of potential left. If Edmundson agrees to terms on a contract with the Habs, we could see the team cash in on that potential by trading Mete to make room for bigger, meaner defenders.