Besides suiting up for two of Montreal’s wins over Vancouver at the beginning of February, the 22-year-old has been a healthy scratch this season after falling to seventh on Montreal’s defensive depth chart when standout rookie Alexander Romanov earned a spot in the lineup out of camp.
The fourth-round pick from 2016 hasn’t been placed on waivers, though, because the team doesn’t want to run the risk of another team scooping him up. This has led to a somewhat uncomfortable position for general manager Marc Bergevin, who was reportedly “furious” about the trade request being made public.
Mete has played 171 games since debuting with Montreal in 2017. He’s a pending restricted free agent whose current salary cap hit is $735,000. With that in mind, here are six teams we feel could show interest in Mete.
A rebuilding Red Wings team could be an ideal place for Mete to land. Filip Hronek is currently the only defenceman on the active roster under age 26, so some added youth and speed would benefit the team and Mete would undoubtedly help in those areas.
Cap space is a non-issue for GM Steve Yzerman. In fact, the surplus of it could make Detroit an even more desirable trade partner for teams facing any type of cap crunch. The Detroit roster has 11 NHL contracts set to expire following the season which could potentially free up more than $25 million in space. The Red Wings also have some draft capital with three 2021 second-round picks and two 2021 third-rounders with which to work.
Who knows whether Ron Hextall will be as aggressive on the trade market as his predecessor, Jim Rutherford, but with Hextall and Brian Burke now at the helm in Pittsburgh we’d be surprised if the team doesn’t at least inquire about Mete’s availability. Brian Dumoulin remains on the injured reserve, fellow blue-liners Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola are on LTIR, plus Cody Ceci and recent signee Yannick Weber are UFAs after this season. Suffice it to say, the Pens need to fortify their back end for both the short- and long-term.
Heading into Thursday’s slate of games, Anaheim had only generated a paltry 28 goals through 14 games and no single player had more than seven points. Mete isn’t exactly known for lighting up the score sheet, although he has in the past shown a knack for generating scoring chances and drawing penalties.
The Ducks have pending UFAs Ben Hutton (27, $950,000 cap hit), Andy Welinski (27, $750,000 cap hit) and Jani Hakanpää (28, $950,000 cap hit) logging minutes for them this season. It’s not crazy to think the younger Mete could be an upgrade on all three of them. Playing behind smooth-skating left-shot defencemen like Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm could also help Mete develop his game.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jacob Chychrun are the only Coyotes blueliners under contract beyond this season and, besides 2019 first-round selection Victor Soderstrom, there’s a dearth of promising defenders in the organization’s pipeline. The Yotes have a core of young, talented forwards who could benefit from Mete’s style and zone entries.
Buffalo has the contracts of defencemen Brandon Montour, Jake McCabe and Matt Irwin potentially all coming off the books in the summer. Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju are also pending RFAs in their early 20s so targeting Mete would fit with the team’s youth movement – Kyle Okposo is the only Sabres player over 30 signed beyond this season.
Mete and Flames forward Sam Bennett share an agent so Bennett’s trade request went public simultaneously. Is it too rudimentary to think a swap of those two players could solve some issues for both teams? Bennett is two years older, has had more experience and success at the NHL level. However, Mete costs less money and at this point in their respective careers some teams might consider Mete’s ceiling higher than the 2014 fourth-overall pick.