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Ottawa Senators Top 25 Under 25, #13: Victor Mete

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The former Habs defenseman makes his debut in our annual series.

Ottawa Senators v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

#13. Victor Mete (Reader Rank: 14, Last Year: NR)

You’re telling me the 13th-ranked player in the Ottawa Senators’ Top 25 Under 25 is one acquired through waivers? You could say that’s rather peculiar, and you’d be right. What’s even more peculiar, however, is that players of Victor Mete’s age aren’t typically waiver-eligible.

That’s because the Montreal Canadiens’ fourth-rounder from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, made the team’s opening-night roster just one year after being drafted. Today, he ranks 13th among his draft class in games played.

Max Lajoie, Ottawa’s fifth-round selection from 2016, brought about tons of deserved fanfare for making the Senators out of camp two years after being drafted, and Mete did the same on a better team, a year earlier.

At 5’9 and 184 pounds, Mete doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the Senators’ ideal defenseman, but him falling out of favour with the Habs, as well as the deadline departures of fellow lefties Mike Reilly and Braydon Coburn, gave GM Pierre Dorion enough of a reason to take a flyer on him. The Senators’ record from that point on? 10-3-1.

Now, I have a suspicion that this record has less to do with having Victor Mete in the lineup, and more to do with having anyone but Erik Gudbranson in the lineup, but Mete was nevertheless able to achieve the evidently difficult task of being a good defenseman on the Senators. In 14 games, he had one goal, one assist, and a plus-5 rating.

His lone goal as a Senator came against the Vancouver Canucks. Here, he sees that Shane Pinto and Alex Formenton are covering for him, and decides to attempt a rush chance upon receiving the puck. At any given time in the NHL you’re typically going to face a better defender than Tyler Myers, but regardless, Mete demonstrates an impressive level of speed here, and he’s able to go under the glove of Thatcher Demko, who was a thorn in the Senators’ side all season. Those skills could indicate the possibility of a higher offensive ceiling that he’s yet to reach.

Given his frame, which can be taken advantage of in the defensive zone, Mete’s had to find success through his transitional play. The main goal for him is to help the team spend as much time as possible with the puck, which he does through successful zone exits and zone entries, such as those leading up to the above goal.

Statistically, he has a positive impact on his team’s ability to drive play. The majority of his ~200 minutes with Ottawa saw him paired with either Josh Brown or Nikita Zaitsev. Take, for example, their Corsi For% (shot attempts) and Expected Goals For% (based on the type and location of shot attempts) with and without Mete (from NaturalStatTrick.com).

  • Brown w/ Mete: 46.72 CF%, 51.12 xGF%
  • Brown w/o Mete: 40.39 CF%, 45.03 xGF%
  • Zaitsev w/ Mete: 44.20 CF%, 60.65 xGF%
  • Zaitsev w/o Mete: 46.72 CF%, 46.75 xGF%

Overall, we see that Mete has a positive impact on both Brown and Zaitsev (the latter has a higher Corsi without Mete but that’s offset by the massive xGF difference), though it’s hard to gauge just how much, because of the other players on the ice, on both teams, which would absolutely influence these numbers. Two defencemen could have the same on-ice result in a game, but one could’ve been matched up against Tkachuk-Norris-Batherson, and the other against Pyatt-Thompson-Burrows. We’re able to retrieve all of that data, but a lot of work is required to manipulate it into meaningful results.

HockeyViz’s model estimates a player’s isolated impact over their career by adjusting their numbers to factor in teammates and opposing players. As always with these charts, red areas denote more shots than average, while blue denotes fewer. You want to see red in the offensive zone, and blue in the defensive.

The model depicts Mete to be a slight drag offensively, but also an excellent suppressor of shot attempts. He’s likely worth more than the $1.2M he’ll make in the upcoming season.

At just 23 years old, Mete already has logged almost 200 NHL games, and has been solid in most of them, totaling 5 goals and 31 assists. He was relied on to play a large role for the team down the stretch, logging over 23 minutes in four of the team’s last five games in the season, and there’s a good chance he’ll be able to do the same next year. Perhaps a permanent second-pair role is in his future.

If not, he’ll still fit in nicely playing on the third pair behind Thomas Chabot and Jake Sanderson long-term.