The Montreal Canadiens selected Victor Mete in the fourth round (100th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Mete was projected to be a late second round pick to an early third round pick, but his lack of size made some general managers shy away. The brain trust in Montreal saw the raw talent in the second year OHL defenceman, one of several players secured players in their system that were projected higher in the draft. That is a testament to the scouting staff of the Canadiens and a coup for the organization to add to their prospect depth on defence.
In 2015-’16, Mete was the second leading scorer among defencemen on the Memorial Cup winning London Knights, behind first round pick Olli Juolevi. Mete possesses elite skating ability and is one of the best pure skaters who has donned a pair of blades in the OHL for a long time. In addition, Mete has great vision and a good puck handling skills. At 5-foot-9-inches tall, primary liabilities are his size and lack strength to separate opposing forwards from the puck.
With his maneuverability, Mete has little trouble boxing-out forwards in one-on-one situations. This season in London, he has been paired at times with Brandon Crawley and Juolevi. Both partners are defensively responsible, allow Mete to be creative offensively. He has responded by playing the best hockey of his OHL career and quickly becoming a leader with the Knights.
Where Mete is at his best is on the power-play. As a quarterback, few players have the ability to control the puck along the blueline and find a seam in the defense to create scoring opportunities like he does.
With a lack of size and yet abundance of offensive ability, one wonders whether his pro career would be served by being a winger? I expect that Victor will struggle with physical play when he embarks on his pro career. A player with his particular set of characteristics — NHL speed, offensive instincts, lack of a heavy point shot, inability to move players off the puck — would seem to be a prime candidate to move to forward.
Mete is projected as a long shot to transition to the NHL. His development has been steady and progressive for two full years with the Knights. This season, he should be among the league leaders in points by defenceman.
Skating ability in this day and age of the new NHL can take you far. How far, will depend on his development in the coming years.