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Arber Xhekaj is ahead of schedule with its rehabilitation plan
Arber Xhekaj has quickly established himself as a crowd favorite in Montreal. The defender, who stands out in particular for his physical play, has never been afraid to throw down the gloves and get his hands dirty.

And because he’s proud to wear the Canadiens jersey, the Montreal crowd has quickly adopted him.

However, the young defenseman’s season came to an unfortunate end this year, when he injured his shoulder in a fight with Vincent Desharnais in early February. He went under the knife, and the club expected to see him back at training camp in the fall.

In the last few hours, Stu Cowan published an interview with the defenseman’s mother, Simona Xhekaj, who had some good news to share about her son:

It’s fantastic. He’s doing extremely well. He’s even ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation plan. – Simona Xhekaj, about her son

It’s obviously reassuring to hear this, especially as we know how difficult the rehabilitation of shoulder injuries can sometimes be. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Xhekaj, though, and all the better for it.

Originally, the team said they expected to see him back at training camp, and now it’s looking more and more likely. If he’s ahead of schedule, he could even be back at 100% before camp starts.

Once again this year, there will be congestion on the blue line. Even if Joel Edmundson were to be traded (which is not yet a certainty), Xhekaj will have to battle with Mike Matheson, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris among the left-handed defensemen for playing time. And that’s without counting David Savard, Justin Barron, Johnathan Kovacevic and even Logan Mailloux among the right-handers, whatever Simon Boisvert may think.

That said, Xhekaj was a regular fixture on his team’s blue line last year, and I expect Martin St-Louis to find a way to play him somehow. And if he’s healthy sooner than expected, it won’t hurt him to get to camp at the top of his game.

In bursts

– Impressive.

– Less impressive.

– Jesper Bratt sounds like a guy who’s with the Devils to stay.

– Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees’ MVP so far this season. My text on the subject.

– Interesting.

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