2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #9 Victor Mete

With speed so quick he can get a breakaway from his own zone, Mete is one of the exciting prospects in all of hockey to watch. | Photo: AFP

Sometimes, it might not be immediately clear why a talented prospect went lower than expected in the draft class. It could be as simple as every team having one prospect higher, or as complex as off-ice issues. But if there has been one type of prospect consistently going lower than expected, but immediately outperforming their draft position–it’s players who slipped because of their height.

So far, Victor Mete, a 5’10” defender and the 100th overall pick in 2016, fits that bill.

It’s really quite fascinating how the NHL works. Mete is a borderline elite NHL skater already, a tremendous puck rusher, and is a rock defensively. Yet, he went 100th overall in his draft class. Arguably the driving force behind this was a matter of inches–literally–as if he stood at 6′ instead of 5’10”, he may very well have gone in the top-45.

It’s also fascinating how “size” creates incorrect labels–Big players must be “powerforwards,” small players must be high-end offensive players. This has also happened to Mete. Although the highlight reels are filled with explosive and dazzling rushes, Mete isn’t a high-end offensive prospect. His value comes from his defence and transition ability.

*I’m not convinced Mete is the ninth-best prospect in the organization, please read the “Ranking Explanation.”

#9) VICTOR METE
Midseason: #9 | 2016: #15
Acquired: 2016, 4th round, 100th overall
Position: LD | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1998-06-07 | Nationality: Canada
Team: London Knights (OHL)
Height: 5’10 (178cm) | Weight: 181 lbs (82kg)

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPHD+MD SOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
501529442911113.50%0.30.280.880.580.362.220.5420.75%9.52%

Series Navigation:
Top 30 Prospects: Ranking Methodology – Integrating Statistics into Analysis
Top 30 Prospects: #30 – #26
Top 30 Prospects: #25 – #21
Top 30 Prospects: #20 – #16
Top 30 Prospects: #15 – #11
Top 30 Prospects: #10
Top 30 Prospects: #9
Top 30 Prospects: #8
Top 30 Prospects: #7
Top 30 Prospects: #6
Top 30 Prospects: #5
Top 30 Prospects: #4
Top 30 Prospects: #3
Top 30 Prospects: #2
Top 30 Prospects: #1

Since I’ve already made a big deal about how good Mete is defensively, I want to take the time to answer the question why is Mete good defensively?

There are three main components: Mete’s skating ability, stick skills, and anticipation of the developing play.

Mete’s skating ability doesn’t just make him an offensive threat, it enables him to cover more of the defensive zone (range), dart on loose pucks and gain a step in battles, and give him recovery ability after a mistake.

In the first clip, Mete recognizes his forward in the corner, anticipates the play developing, and assumes the forward’s role. Not only does Mete pivot twice in this process and win the race against a larger forward, he pokes the puck off his stick and prevents a net drive. Then, Mete frees the puck up with a powerful, well-timed push resulting in a controlled exit.

In the second clip, Mete keeps the attacker behind his net. As the play returns shortly after, Mete is pushed away by the attacker, but quickly regains the inside lane and slides the puck off his stick. While this might not be an overpowering battle, it’s still a win.

Contrary to popular belief, Mete and his 5’10” frame do not struggle in puck battles. Mete is sturdily built, and his footwork enables him to get the extra hop on attackers. He engages attackers with his feet, by driving his skate in front of his attacker’s as they go into the boards, which allows Mete to maintain body positioning with an easy escape. Particularly against larger forwards, Mete lowers his centre of gravity to get underneath to drive his body inwards, and then make a clean steal to send the puck forward.

When it comes to actually engaging in battles in which the attacker has clearly established possession along the boards, Mete usually does one of two things. First, he will engage physically (i.e., press puck carrier into the boards), but generally requires a teammate to alleviate pressure. Second, and more common, he won’t engage physically, and instead enter with his stick and prevent the attacker from making a net drive. This is called playing to your strengths. This is not an issue in junior, but rather an element to consider when projecting his game to the NHL.

Additionally, Mete is a capable defender off the rush, as noted by his phenomenal controlled zone entry prevention rate of 57%, which was the among high rates of all defenders I tracked this season. It’s not difficult to see why. Mete is rangy, explosive, and has a great stick, as shown above.

A compilation of all the defencemen I tracked this season. The further the upper-right, the better. (Guess who is on the far right.)

What this chart shows is Carry-in percentage versus the percentage of controlled entries against prevented. Carry-in% measures the percentage of entries attempts against the player that were with control. This, in essence, shows the strength of a player’s neutral zone defence and gap control, assuming that maintaining a tighter gap results in more uncontrolled attempts and fewer controlled attempts.

This is an important aspect of defence, that Mete falls slightly behind in with both the numbers I tracked and in my game notes. Notice Mete’s gap control in these clips, particularly through the neutral zone:

It’s passive, and that’s likely why his carry-in% falls below the average of the players I tracked. He sits back, and prefers to take the shot away. The problem is that the opposition has already gained the offensive zone. This adds an extra step to turning the play into offence. Not only do the Knights have to regain possession, then they have to exit the defensive zone while being forechecked. Removing possession earlier results in more time for support to set-up, and inhibits opposition from setting up their offensive structure.

However, Mete is already a stalwart at the junior level, and could take his defence to the next level this upcoming season if he played his gap more aggressive through the neutral zone. His anticipation is top-notch, he doesn’t hesitate to block shots, and his in-zone gap control is precise and tight. Clearly, with a 57% controlled entry prevention rate, he’s doing lots right. But there’s potential to be even better.

The Report

So, we’ve now come to the conclusion that Mete is damn good defensively, and has room to grow. Let’s move into the player report.

Mete’s D+1 season was stellar, in every sense. Not only did he improve defensively, Mete improved his offensive output by a staggering 0.34 P/GP and 0.26 P1/GP. His 0.36 5v5 P1/GP was fifth among all OHL blue liners, only behind elite talents like Mikhail Sergachev (miss you!) and Ryan Merkley. He nearly doubled his TM INV%, bringing it up 20.75%–among the best in the OHL. Mete wasn’t just a driver of goals on London, he was arguably the driving defenceman with a 9.52 GF.Rel% and WOWY splits that would be absurd if they weren’t so darn impressive.

Save for a handful of players with limited ice time together, Victor Mete made every player better when he they played together.

An elite transition player, with breakaway speed, quick hands, and off-the-charts anticipation and awareness. Mete thrives after alleviating pressure his own zone, and either leading the rush or jumping in behind. He makes an accurate breakout pass, but perhaps the velocity of his passes can be slow sometimes. Mete displays creativity while leading the rush, and resembles for a skillful powerforward rather than a 5’10” defender with the way he drives the net. He also can connect with the occasional high-skill pass to an open teammate. Mete shows no hesitation to wire the puck off the glass and out, and can be fairly reckless with possession from time-to-time.

In the offensive zone, Mete has made serious improvements. He still lacks a big shot, and he’s not a high-end playmaker, but he exploded offensively because he played to his strengths. Mete still isn’t great on the point, but he’s figured out that he doesn’t have to be.

Mete jumps off the point for the backdoor play as often as he can. This is how he scored the majority of his goals this season. Most intriguing is how he uses continuous movement to find seams and shake defenders. After finding soft ice, he has a quick release complemented with soft hands that enable him to pull off some slick finishes.

Lane and space creation remains a work-in-progress. His shot is not only underwhelming, but he doesn’t create the lane to get it through. Although he connects with a high-skill pass occasionally, he prefers low-risk passes, and will rarely activate off the point with the puck. So, as a results it’s probably unfair to expect a Shayne Gostisbehere or Torey Krug.

There are further reasons to be concerned about Mete’s offence: 1) Sustainability, and 2) Translation to NHL. Mete shot at 13.5%, which was well above the 5.4% average of blue liners and the third highest rate among blue liners in the OHL. A logical assumption would be that since Mete shoots from closer than any OHL defender, his SH% would be higher. However, his HD+MD SH% is an insane 44.44%, nearly 3x the average among OHL defenders (16.04%). For comparison sake, the 33 defenders who ranked in the 75th percentile in HD+MD SOG/GP shot 16%, and only five players eclipsed 22%. No other blue liner was more reliant on HD+MD goals than Mete (12 of 15), and that’s true on both the PP and 5v5.

 

While my intuition is doubtful of the sustainability of Mete’s goal production, this is only the second season SOG data has been available in the OHL. So, there isn’t any empirical indication(s) that this is sustainable or not. I’m really curious to see if Mete can keep up this kind of production next season.

As for the NHL, the backdoor play that requires space and precise timing–something that is far less readily available in the NHL. It’s something that is clearly structured within the game (often on the PP), and can be game-planned against. Therefore, I believe it to be important that Mete continues to develop his ability to score from the point.

Next season, Mete will likely answer the questions I have about the sustainability of his production. The offensive zone play remains a concern, but he’s better than ever in transition and defensively. Not only do I expect Mete to be among the OHL’s elite blue liners, I wouldn’t be shocked if he wins the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the league’s top defenceman.

Ranking Explanation: If you’ve read my work recently, you would’ve already known I’m not comfortable with this ranking. If this were a list solely based on “feel,” Mete wouldn’t be ninth. He’d be in the top-six, possibly fourth or fifth overall. But this isn’t a list based on feel. I’ve made this series a pursuit to limit biases through increased usage of statistics and rigid list creation. The formulation of upside, of course, has a great deal of “feel” put into it, but there are also a variety of resources consulted to aid me in this process. The order within the tiers is then decided by NHL readiness, likelihood of playing in the NHL, etc. It’s not a science, but there’s enough measures in this process that are going to lead to rankings that are uncomfortable for me.

However, this does make me wonder… How valuable is my Ranking Methodology if it results in such a large discrepancy between my views on a player and where he ended up? When it comes to statistics and modelling, there will always be a outliers–some results that don’t match the “standard view.” Although my methodology is far from a model, Mete falls into the category as an outlier. I don’t see the players above Mete, even in Tier #2, as having significantly better upside–I even question if they are better prospects. In the case of a couple, I honestly don’t think so.

One improvement I’ve already started considering for next season is how to balance likelihood of reaching the NHL, and likelihood of reaching their upside. There’s a certain forward ranked above Mete who I have major doubts will reach the upside I see, but is very close to making the NHL. Whereas with Mete I’m relatively confident he could become a decent #4 or quality #5 defender, with more room to grow if his production turns out to be sustainable, but he’s still quite far away the NHL.

So, once again, this is another reminder that information within the profiles themselves is much more important.

With Mete, it’s not solely concerns about what he is but rather projection concerns. Shooting at 44.44% in HD+MD areas would be concerning for a top-notch OHL scorer, let alone a defenceman.

In the case of Mete versus Bitten, the decision was almost solely based development curve. Both players have strikingly similar upside, both are similarly not confined by their stature, and both made progress this season. However, Mete took the reigns in London, became their #1 defender over Olli Juolevi, and was one of the best players in the entire OHL.

Notes:

  1. All the information is “in my opinion.
  2. The ranking likely has limited-to-no value. Think of the ranking as a way to catalogue players, notes, and data in a non-alphabetical way. The information within the profiles is far, far more valuable.
  3. I mentioned I’m not a scout right? If not, I’m not a scout.
  4. I appreciate all questions, comments, and criticism. You can reach me on Twitter (@MitchLBrown) or email (mitchbrown31@gmail.com). You can also tell me I suck. I don’t care.
  5. AHL/CHL/USHL Stats: Prospect-Stats.com | NCAA Stats: CollegeHockeyInc.com | SuperElit Stats: Stats.SweHockey.se | NHL Stats: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com

The list so far…

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One Response to 2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #9 Victor Mete

  1. Hi Mitch

    Thanks for the write-up. Do you think Mete can realistically play on Montreal’s top 4 or do you see him as a bottom pairing D?

    Thanks

    Jay August 6, 2017 at 9:28 am Reply

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