The interesting part of the Top 25 Under 25 rankings is that it mixes established NHL pros vs amateur prospects yet to even debut at any professional level. How much do you weigh the certainty about knowing how good a guy is in the NHL vs a highly touted teenager who we all think (hope) will be better?

Not that the Leafs have too many real blue chippers, but neither is Victor Mete a very spectacular pro. But a pro he is, with 236 NHL games across 5 seasons. That’s not nothing, especially when you’re ranking against lesser prospects who aren’t even a certainty to be as good as Mete already is now.

So, let’s talk about him.

The Player

Victor Mete is a local boy from Woodbridge, taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He spent three years with the London Knights in the OHL, and made a surprise jump right to the NHL in his D+2 season. Not the least surprising because Mete is a 5’9” defender, and small defensemen have a hard time getting a shot in the NHL, let alone as a fourth round pick, let alone sticking in the NHL from that point onward.

His time in the NHL hasn’t always been very smooth. He’s faced periods of being scratched, being traded, and being waived. But if you look at his career impacts above, he rates out as a competent NHL defenseman. He may not be spectacular, but he has had positive impacts offensively, defensively, and even on the PK recently. What he doesn’t do is produce points, with only 43 points over his entire NHL career.

Toronto snapped him up as a free agent for league minimum, and I’d say as of right now he seems more likely to start in the AHL than in the NHL. He will make very good insurance as a depth defenseman in the event of an injury, assuming he can pass through waivers. But as a left shot defenseman, he’s dealing with a depth chart above him of Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, Mark Giordano, Rasmus Sandin, and heck maybe even TJ Brodie depending on what configuration the Leafs want to use.

So I wouldn’t count on him playing in the NHL a lot this year, as things stand now.

But... I don’t think that really matters. Mete would very likely be the best defenseman on the Marlies. He has shown he can hold down an NHL job and do it competently. I can count on one hand the number of Leafs’ prospects on defense right now that MIGHT be better than him by the time they reach their peak, and I’d still have a finger or two left over.

The Votes

Three voters did not include Mete in their top 25. I was one of them, but I am going to admit that I did it in error. I had meant to vote him at 17th, but put that vote onto Max Ellis by mistake. I was basically thinking of Mete as a divide between any of the Leafs’ prospects who I think have some merit (Moldenhauer at 16) and those who I see as longer shots or bigger question marks (starting with Grebenkin).

Anyone who voted for Mete had him between 11 and 15, which honestly I feel is about right. I’m not sure how much my whiffing on my intended rank of him affected his final rankings, but he probably should be a few spots higher.

Victor Mete Votes

Josh - Smaht Scouting-
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Polak15
Weighted Average17.67
Highest Rank11
Lowest Rank15
Spread in Votes4

Here’s what the other voters said about him:

dhammm: I feel like where someone ranks Victor Mete says a lot about what they value when ranking these players. He has crossed the 200 games threshold with a limp. He’s on his third NHL team and while the 24-year-old defenseman ostensibly could grow beyond what he currently is, whatever bloom excited people about him once upon a time seems to have wilted. He looks like less than Travis Dermott, a rock-solid bottom-pair NHL defenseman whose spot in a top 6 isn’t in question.

Mete is the minimum viable product for an NHLer out of a draft pick. When you take a mid-round draft pick and summon a mischievous djinn and tell it, “I want this pick to become an NHLer,” the djinn smirks and gives you Victor Mete, and you think to yourself you should have been more precise with your wording. All this still makes him probably more accomplished than a lot of prospects end up being and a breakpoint for where one’s estimation of a given prospect’s potential outshines reasonable doubts that prospect making the NHL at all. Mete is skilled enough to achieve things many prospects in the Leafs pipeline will not come close to achieving, and when you dream on a prospect’s upside, you have to ask whether you’re looking at a box and thinking it could be anything, it could even be Victor Mete.

TomK421: I didn’t want to rank Mete, I 100% expect him to be lost on waivers at the earliest opportunity. Pretend he’s not on my list and move everybody else up a spot. He’s fine as a 7th or 8th D, whatever.

Katya: We gonna argue about this one. I don’t think it’s so much what you value that this ranking reveals, but how you think about future potential. You can play Mete in the NHL on a random road game when Gio feels his age and Liljegren watched three goals go in from right close up the night before and he’s fine*. Most of this list will never get to that stage. Never. The probability is that most of the players people ranked over Mete will never get to that stage. I ranked him 100% for where he is now, which is always easier to see than the future.

*you could if you had cap space for a callup, but he’ll be in the AHL because Leafs.

Hardev: Sorry, I can’t vote for a player who has a 50% chance of not being in the organization by game 1 this season, a 99% chance of not being here next year, and a 100% chance of not being on the list next year. Yes, he has a much better chance than the other guys around him of playing a game for the Leafs, but I just don’t care about him. I don’t care about these one-year waivers guys. I won’t care if he plays a couple meh games for the Leafs. I know it’s fantasy of me to think this way, but I’d like to think I’m ranking players based on how impactful they can be in the NHL. Anyway, thank you for reading this long paragraph about how little I care.

Do you think Mete will play any NHL games this year?

For sure, the Leafs’ defense always has injuries296
Yes, just not for Toronto336