Just before the free agent period opened up, the Habs took care of another one of their restricted free agents, re-signing Victor Mete to a one-year deal at his $735,000 qualifying offer.
Mete has provided good value for the Habs considering he was a fourth-round pick back in 2016. He cracked the lineup just one year later, spending a lot of time with Shea Weber and at the time, he looked like he could be part of Montreal’s future core.
However, his role has decreased since then and he spent most of this past season on the third pairing, logging just 16 minutes per game. Despite that, he managed to score four goals after being held without one over his first two seasons while chipping in with six assists so it was believed that he’d get a bit of a raise from his rookie deal.
However, without arbitration eligibility and a flat cap, it appears as if the Habs wielded the hammer here to get him to take the qualifier. In doing so, they give themselves a bit more flexibility to work with this offseason (though by the time they fill out their roster and leave a buffer for in-season moves, there still isn’t a lot to work with) but they also give the 22-year-old a shot at going to arbitration next offseason. He’ll likely have over 200 NHL games under his belt by then (he’s at 171) so he’ll be positioned to cash in a bit more at that time.