The Montreal Canadiens announced they are sending former London Knight defenceman Victor Mete to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp to join Knights teammates Alex Formenton and captain Robert Thomas ahead of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
In a surprise to many, Mete made the Canadiens roster out of training back in October when many people thought he would return to London for at least another year. Then it became a question of whether the Habs would keep the young defenceman in the NHL or send him back to the Knights. That question first arose at the 9 game mark of the season, 1 game before a year of Mete’s entry level contract would kick in. The case was opened and shut fairly quickly, Mete had not only played his way into the team’s top 6, he had played his way onto the top pair next to “Man Mountain” Shea Weber.
On October 28th Victor Mete told the Montreal Media that General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens Marc Bergevin told him to “find a place”, cementing his role as a Hab. Since that point Mete’s play hasn’t dropped, he’s continued to be the quick, puck moving defenceman that he is, but his ice time is another matter. Early in the season Mete would play around 20 minutes some nights but now he struggles to top 10, with the odd healthy scratch mixed in. The reasoning could be head coach Claude Julien’s lack of trust for the young defenceman, maybe it’s his style of developing young blue liners, or it could be the abundance of competition on the team. Victor Mete has to compete with the likes of Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner, David Schlemko, Jordie Benn, Jakub Jarebek and Joe Morrow so the fight for ice time may just be part of the numbers game.
🇨🇦 D pairings at first selection camp practice
Fabbro is here, but not skating this morning
All four goalies on the ice: Hart, DiPietro, Point, Harvey
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 12, 2017
So now Mete is on his way to the World Juniors, but his spot on the team is anything but cemented after being cut last year. Victor will start camp today in St. Catharines, Ontario fighting for a job to represent his country with a large group of talented young defenceman including returnees Jake Bean (Calgary, WHL), Kale Clague (Brandon, WHL), and Dante Fabbro (Boston University.) He has tough competition, but 27 games of NHL experience on his side.
But what happens after the tournament? Whether Mete makes Team Canada or not, the Canadiens will have a choice to make. Bring the young blue liner back to the big club to continue his NHL career, or send him back to Junior to finish one more season with the London Knights. There is always the chance that the Knights could trade his rights in that time as he would surely fetch a big return. If he is sent back and stays with the team, he will be a welcomed addition to a rather thin Defence core that contains only one player with more than 10 points.