Earlier today, the Montreal Canadiens announced that they will be letting 19-year old defenseman Victor Mete join Team Canada for the upcoming IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. This has implications for the two Colorado Avalanche prospects that will be attending Canada’s selection camp trying to make the team.
The team’s top two picks from last summer’s draft, Cale Makar and Conor Timmins are among a large group of high-end defensemen that will be vying for seven or eight spots on Canada’s blueline for the tournament that begins December 26th in Buffalo, New York.
At first glance, it would seem that Mete’s presence wouldn’t have much of an impact on the two Avs prospects as he is a left-handed shot while Timmins and Makar are both righties. That’s not the case.
While he plays a lot on the left side in Montreal, Victor Mete is more than able to play his off-side. Over the past few years, he has played on both the left and right side with the London Knights. This versatility will become very valuable for Canada’s coaching staff as they select their roster.
Jake Bean and Kale Clague are arguably the two best defensemen at Canada’s selection camp. With them being virtual locks to fill two of the LD spots for Canada, the coaches might feel it’s advantageous to play the Habs blueliner on the right side. Add Mete to Dante Fabbro and you’ve got a pretty incredible top-4.
That leaves three (maybe four depending on the team’s makeup) defensive spot to be filled.
On the left side, you have guys like Logan Stanley, Denis Cholowski and Josh Mahura battling for the third spot. On the right, you’ve got future Avs Makar and Timmins, along with Cal Foote all battling for one spot in the lineup.
Many will assume Makar will have the leg up to claim that spot, but not necessarily.
A week ago, when the camp roster was announced, Cale Makar looked like a lock to make the team as a great skating puck mover on the right side. Unfortunately, that exactly the role Victor Mete will be playing. There becomes a lot fewer PP minutes for Makar and more of a need for solid two-way play. Mete’s addition to the team might make Makar’s presence a little redundant for Canada.
With the way the camp is today, it’s starting to think that of the two Avs prospects, Conor Timmins the one that will be more likely to make the team and get stead ice time. A third pair of Mahura and Timmins would look really good and compliment the top-4 incredibly well.
Timmins is a lot more versatile than Makar. He can play in any situation and could log a ton of PK minutes - something that can’t be said for Makar.
Bean - Mete
Clague - Fabbro
Mahura - Timmins
That is a very versatile group of six defenders - leaving Makar, Cholowski and Foote to battle it out for the 7th spot.
We will learn a lot more as to what the coaching staff is thinking when camp opens this week. Who knows, maybe Makar and Timmins blow everyone away and both make it onto the final roster.
Then again, maybe something else crazy happens and the Avs release Samuel Girard to join the team as well - something I think they should do. A move like that would be huge for Team Canada and change the outlook of their blueline yet again.