Considering he hadn’t been playing much as of late, the Habs have loaned Victor Mete to Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships.
Mete was a huge surprise in training camp, not only by making the squad but by quickly moving up alongside Shea Weber. As the season has progressed, teams have started to exploit him a bit more and as a result, his ice time has dropped. He has been a healthy scratch in three of the last six games with fellow first-year NHLer Jakub Jerabek also making a case for playing time. Overall, he has four assists in 27 games this season while averaging a respectable 14:52 of ice time.
Mete has not yet played in the tournament after being cut by Canada last season. Assuming he makes the team, he should slot in nicely into a top-four role.
It’s noteworthy that Montreal made the decision today instead of waiting until the 19th, the last possible day to loan a player. By making the move now, they save a few games on his Active Roster clock. Once Mete is on the Active Roster for 40 games (this includes games spent as a healthy scratch), he accrues a season towards unrestricted free agency. He has been on the 23-man roster for all 31 games so he’s only nine away from hitting that mark.
Because he is on loan from the Canadiens, they will reserve the right to recall him back from the tournament at that time. Had they sent him back to junior first, the only way they’d be able to bring him back this season is under emergency conditions.
In the meantime, Mete will come off the roster so the Habs now have an extra spot to play with. That might come in handy with a lengthy road trip on the horizon, especially if they decide to bring Charlie Lindgren up for a spot start to give Carey Price a night off.