Xavier Ouellet could have become an unrestricted free agent next year. But with a woman, a child, a precarious status in the NHL and the pandemic which creates a lot of uncertainty, the defender advocated safety. As they say, he played safe.
“We are happy to stay in the organization of the Canadiens. It was very valuable for us to be able to stay in Montreal, said the 27-year-old athlete. In terms of hockey, I like the direction the team is taking. This mentality of wanting to win. These are two reasons that made me want to stay at home. ”
Made available by videoconference the day after his contract renewal, a two-year, two-part deal that will earn him $ 737,500 annually if he plays in the NHL, Ouellet has placed great emphasis on the family aspect.
“Yes, it’s a family decision. It’s us, it’s our life, it’s where we live. I discussed this with my wife. We made the decision together to want to stay where we are. The goal was to find an agreement that we like, ”he explained.
Even though he finished the season in Montreal and played all 10 of the Canadiens’ playoff games, Ouellet is well aware that he could very well start the campaign in the American League.
Laval, the next door
The advantage, with the organization of the Habs, is that the school club is located next door, in Laval. No need to move and leave the family behind. A detail not to be overlooked when you know that this is not the case everywhere.
He could have found himself in the organization of the Lightning, fond of Quebec players, whose affiliated team is located in Syracuse, 2040 km north of Tampa. Or worse, among the Canucks who had the good idea to set up their school team in Utica, 4706 km east of Vancouver.
The acquisition of Joel Edmundson and the addition of Alexander Romanov will make the competition fierce on the left flank during the next training camp.
“My mentality will not change when I get to camp. I want to play in the NHL, I want to play in Montreal. Competition is healthy. It’s good for the team and it’s good to bring out the best in everyone, ”said Ouellet, recalling that he was called to play on the right side with the Rocket last season.
Mete has other qualities
Victor Mete is another who will be caught in this congestion. From a contractual point of view, he is one step ahead of Ouellet since he signed a one-part agreement (1 season / $ 735,000).
“It gives me a year to prove what I can do. We will play that season and we will see what will happen next, ”dropped the Ontarian.
With the additions of Edmundson and Josh Anderson, Marc Bergevin’s intentions are clear. He wants to add weight to his team. He had already taken a first step in this direction in the summer of 2019 by attracting Ben Chiarot to Montreal.
At 5’9 ” and 187 pounds, Mete doesn’t really fit into this trend.
“My style is very different from that of the other defenders on our team. I don’t hit as much, but I use my feet to my advantage to get myself out of certain situations. I’m not the biggest, but I have other qualities, ”he stressed.
Like Ouellet, Mete is able to play on the right. It’s a position he held for the most part during the playoffs. Shea Weber’s former partner considers himself to have done well.
“They wanted me right. I had played a bit on that side in junior, said the 22-year-old. I think it was good for me to be able to play both sides without my game being affected. ”
So much the better, because there may be more openings on this side.