The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Victor Mete earlier this summer, and the fans did not go crazy.
The reason that Toronto Maple Leafs fans did not widely celebrate the acquisition of Victor Mete has way more to do with the team’s philosophy than the player himself.
The Leafs employ a “studs and duds” approach to the salary cap whereby they have committed to a large core of players and constantly change out cheap player (the duds) in search of guys who out-perform their contracts.
That means that every summer we all get eight or nine new players to learn about, most of whom won’t last longer than a cup of coffee.
But every once in a while, one of these guys turns into Michael Bunting or David Kampf, so they are worth knowing.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Victor Mete
The Leafs signed Mete to a one-year $750 K contract which, when it expires, will make him an RFA.
Born in 1998, the Woodbridge, Ontario native is a local kid who now potentially get the chance to suit-up for his hometown team. The diminutive Mete is only 5’9, and he shoots left. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Canadiens in 2016.
He played parts of four seasons with the Canadiens, then played the last two with the Habs.
In total he has played 236 NHL games, has 5 goals and 43 points.
Mete is the typical kind of prospect who gets lost in transition to the NHL: he’s talented without being an automatic star, and he’s small and pigeon holed as a “offensive defenseman” which severely limits his down-the-lineup opportunities.
He didn’t do enough with the opportunities he’s had, but players like him don’t tend to thrive in the kinds of roles they get forced to play in the NHL. For example, Mete has only ever seen extremely limited opportunities on an NHL power-play.
Reading several scouting reports, and looking at video highlights, he is a quick player, and everyone pretty much universal calls him a smart player. But he isn’t strong, and he isn’t ever going to be.
But when you read about his natural talent, and you look at his underlying stats (before getting to the absolutely horrible Senators, he always maintained at least a 50% CF, and VERY solid Expected Goals numbers).
Additionally, like TJ Brodie, he is a lefty who can play the right side.
Mete’s path to playing time in Toronto is complicated (they have nine NHL defenseman, to say nothing of Topi Niemela and Mikko Kokkonen) but he’s going to be among the best players in the AHL, and will likely eventually see some minutes due to the inevitable injuries that are bound to occur.
The Toronto Maple Leafs know he’s a longshot to be a major contributor, but they also know that if you play the numbers with enough of these guys, that you eventually get lucky.
There is no risk to this signing, and the potential of a decent reward. Mete could just turn out to the be defensive version of Michasel Bunting, though he probably won’t.