Montreal Canadiens: Time to Give Victor Mete a Bigger Role?

Mar 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens defenceman Victor Mete appeared on the outs with the Habs not long ago.

He has been a healthy scratch for most of the season, but the relationship really could have soured when Ben Chiarot was injured. Instead of inserting Mete, who was with the team all season, into the lineup, the team called up Xavier Ouellet and played him for a pair of games.

Mete was rumoured to be wanting out early in the season. After being leapfrogged on the depth chart by the captain the Laval Rocket, he must have been steaming.

However, he hasn’t been traded and was back in the lineup last night. The 22 year old played on the third pairing with Alexander Romanov, and was last among blue liners in time on ice. Though he didn’t play a big role in the team’s win, he did do some great things while on the ice and brings an element that is missing from the Canadiens blue line.

The Habs entire defence is built around being big, strong and defensively responsible. There is not much room for risky play on the team’s defence.

What Mete brings is an incredible amount of speed and skill. He is a slender defender at just 5’9″ and 184 pounds and can be muscled off pucks in battles along the boards. That’s no ideal for a defenceman in the NHL and is glaringly obvious when it happens, but a quick look at Mete’s performance at the NHL level shows he does more good than harm.

With Chiarot out of the lineup, Shea Weber is having a hard time finding chemistry with a new partner. He has mostly played with Joel Edmundson, but both of them have a hard time carrying the puck up ice or making long, crisp breakout passes so they have been caught in their own end for far too long.

They are both big, physical defenders who win battles for pucks and clear out the front of the net, but neither would be considered a puck moving defenceman. Victor Mete would definitely be described as a puck moving defenceman.

When Mete played with Weber last season, they put up solid numbers. They played well over 250 minutes together at 5 on 5 last season and controlled 52.68 percent of the shot attempts when they were on the ice. The Habs had 55.14% of the scoring chances when Mete and Weber were on the ice together and outscored their opponent 16-7 at even strength with this duo.

Mete has flaws, as does almost every player in the National Hockey League. There is no point in expecting Mete to turn into a physical player or a point per game defenceman. There is much reason to expect he can carry the puck up ice, move it from his own zone to the neutral zone quickly and join his teammates up ice on occasion to cause an odd man rush.

With Ouellet clearly not working out this season and Chiarot out long term, the Habs really have no choice but to play Mete for the foreseeable future. If he’s in the lineup, they may as well put him where he has been successful in the past and that is with Shea Weber.

It would be wise to make this the team’s second defence pair while Jeff Petry carries the first pairing with either Brett Kulak or Joel Edmundson. Whoever isn’t partnered with Petry would be on the third pairing with Alexander Romanov.

This gives the Canadiens the best chance at success in the near future.

Next. 7 Habs Talking Points. dark

Mete has played just eight games this season and finally got his first point last night. However, he really should be given a chance in the team’s top four as Weber’s partner.