You’ve probably heard by now that a certain 22-year-old Montreal Canadiens defenceman has asked to be traded.
Victor Mete, a fourth-round draft choice in 2016, was once a regular in the Canadiens lineup. He even started his career playing alongside steady veteran Shea Weber. But this was before the Canadiens bulked up with the addition of Joel Edmundson and implemented rookie Alexander Romanov into their lineup, leaving Mete on the outside looking in.
Even before news of his trade request went public, teams had reportedly shown interest in Mete and were monitoring his exclusion from the lineup.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was quick to pour water on the idea of trading his young blueliner last Saturday. Two nights later, Mete made his season debut for the Canadiens against the Vancouver Canucks. Maybe it was to showcase him to other teams, or perhaps it was to keep him fresh and not have him sit on the bench too long.
In the two games Mete played against the Canucks post-trade request, he was minus-2 with no points, four blocked shots and one hit. Those aren’t statistics you’d frame and put on your wall, but they make a bit more sense when you consider the player sat out the first eight games of the season. But it’s not like he has much of a track record to suggest he’ll suddenly turn it on offensively. After struggling to find a goal in his first two seasons, he scored four times last year and added seven assists.
At 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, Mete’s size isn’t a strong asset, but he has speed, moves the puck well and can play on the power play if needed. His $735,000 cap hit also isn’t the toughest to accommodate, but with many teams hugging the upper limit of the salary cap, they’re likely going to have to trade from an area of surplus to get him.
So, where would he be a fit? We fired up the ol’ trade machine at Yahoo! Sports and landed on the following teams as potential suitors for the Canadiens defenceman.
The Jets’ defensive corps leaves a lot to be desired and it could be argued it’s just ahead of the Ottawa Senators for worst in the North Division. It’s a significant drop in talent after Neal Pionk and if they have to dip into their taxi squad for reinforcements, there’s some unproven and barely-tested talent in Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg.
Mete would immediately give the Jets another young, mobile defenceman, but with far more mileage under his belt. Winnipeg, however, would have to send a body the other way to make it work and couldn’t settle for just offering a draft pick or two.
The Penguins were in the market for defensive help a few days ago before eventually signing Yannick Weber to a one-year, two-way deal. But they still look a bit thin beyond their six defencemen with Brian Dumoulin out for the foreseeable future.
Mete might have to play seventh defenceman in Pittsburgh, but he might not have to wait long before entering the lineup.
Fresh off putting Braydon Coburn on waivers, the Senators could definitely be in the market for any type of help on defence. Unlike the two other teams mentioned, the Senators have ample room to take him on.
Considering they’ve given up a league-worst 48 goals, it’s not like the Senators would be much worse off with Mete in the lineup, either.
Vegas Golden Knights
Because of cap restrictions, the Golden Knights are playing — and succeeding — with five defencemen on their roster. Of course, that came before COVID-19 halted their games.
The Golden Knights don’t have room to put in a waiver claim for a defenceman. But if the Canadiens are willing to take on another roster player at a similar salary and a draft pick, perhaps these two teams could make for good trading partners.
Maybe don’t trade Mete?
This is also a plausible and reasonable option for the Canadiens, depending on the offers they receive. Montreal has a winning lineup, which has made it hard for Mete to crack as a regular. But it’s not as if he’s fallen so far down the depth chart that he won’t get a chance if Romanov starts to hit the rookie wall, Brett Kulak starts to slip, or someone gets injured. Montreal could look at slotting in Xavier Ouellet or Cale Fleury ahead of him, but Mete is currently an upgrade on those two players.
And unless Marc Bergevin gets an offer he can’t refuse, he doesn’t need to rush into making a deal. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a deal to be made that could benefit all parties.
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