The Ottawa Senators avoided arbitration Wednesday, signing defenseman Victor Mete to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
Victor Mete was one of 17 NHL players who filed for arbitration Monday.
Claimed off waivers from the Canadiens on April 12, the 23-year old drove the two-plus hours from Montreal that same afternoon to help his new team defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 that evening.
Mete went on to play another 13 games with Senators – posting one goal, one assist. The Canadiens 2016 fourth-round selection totaled 28 games between the two clubs on the season, compiling one goal, four assists.
The former London Knight meshed well with the Senators down the stretch, so much so that Mete received 17:27 of ice time per game during his limited with Ottawa compared to 14:09 for the Canadiens.
Upon his arrival in Ottawa, Senators head coach D.J. Smith gave Mete much-needed confidence to play his own game.
The defenseman told Full Press Hockey via Zoom Thursday, “I think it was kind of the opportunity. D.J. pretty much agreed to let me play my game, and I was able to take advantage of that – play like I can – mistake care and not worry if I do make a mistake, I won’t be playing the rest of the game. I just went out there and played my game and had the full support of my coach.”
In a Senators team release, General Manager Pierre Dorion said this of Mete, “Victor was a really solid addition to our defence corps over the last month of the season last year. He’s mobile, poised and defensively aware. We’re looking forward to seeing his progression in our lineup in 2021-22.”
“Looking forward to seeing his progression in our lineup in 2021-22,” is quite the statement bestowed by the Senators’ GM on the Woodbridge, ON native.
Listed at five-foot-nine, 184 pounds, Mete is focusing on next season, working out in the gym five days per week and skating for three since June focusing on the task ahead.
Victor Mete is now one of seven blue-liners on one-way contracts currently on Ottawa’s roster.
The Senators defense core is a crowded one, especially after the team added Michael Del Zotto via free agency and acquired Nick Holden from the Vegas Golden Knights in a July 28 trade which saw Evgenii Dadonov move West.
First goal of the season – ✅
First goal with the Senators – ✅
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 28, 2021
The depth chart has Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, Victor Mete, Nick Holden, Michael Del Zotto at LD. The RD includes Nikita Zaitsev, Artem Zub, Josh Brown, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson.
Brannstrom, Bernard-Docker, Thomson are all waiver exempt – meaning these three d-men can all shuttle between Belleville and Ottawa.
Thomson is slated to spend next season in Belleville after getting his feet wet this past season playing 35 games at the pro level.
Bernard-Docker may also open the 2021-22 campaign with the BSens. It certainly wouldn’t harm his development – which leaves Brannstrom.
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The left side of the Senators is now comprised of four defensemen on one-way deals. Brannstrom possesses the capability to play the right side and has done so at the American League level -as do Del Zotto and Holden per Dorion in his July 28 media availability.
However, head coach D.J. Smith commented more than once last season, the preference is to keep Brannstrom on the left side.
This is mainly due to Brannstrom being a defender of smaller stature – having to pivot and backhand the puck off the boards to clear the zone rather than skating the puck out or forging ahead on his strong side.
There have been rumblings Dorion may be shopping the soon-to-be 22-year old in an attempt to acquire a top-six forward. While this remains to be seen, it’s hard to believe the Senators will enter training camp in late September with their current D-core.