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Fights: Xhekaj won’t have to prove himself even with Reaves and Lucic in the Atlantic division
On February 12, 2023, Montreal Canadiens fans held their breath after young Arber Xhekaj injured his shoulder in a fight with Vincent Desharnais.

Two weeks later, we learned that Wi-Fi would miss the rest of the season to undergo surgery.

With his second NHL season approaching, Xhekaj could be busier than last season. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins have acquired Ryan Reaves and Milan Lucic respectively to add strength.

And that’s got some Tricolore fans worried, as they’d love to see Xhekaj play a full season.

However, the giant 22-year-old defenseman is aware that his fight card in his rookie season was perhaps a little too full.

He also believes he’s already proven himself as a strongman in the NHL and won’t have to throw down the gloves as often.

Xhekaj no longer has to prove his place in the NHL, but can still prove he’s one of the league’s toughest, if not the toughest.

If he can add Lucic and Reaves to his list of victories, we’ll have to seriously believe he’s at the top of the league at this level.

For that, he’ll need to exact revenge against Quebecers Vincent Desharnais and Nicolas Deslauriers, his only two defeats. The latter clearly had the upper hand on the rookie, even if few shots were thrown.

Recently, Xhekaj confirmed that he won’t be afraid to fight when he returns to action, despite the serious injury he sustained.

Although he’ll have to be more selective in his fights and not throw down the gloves in every game, Xhekaj will continue to play hard and still hope to make a big impact.

He also added that whatever happens will happen, and that what happened in his fight with Desharnais was just a freak accident.

Joel Edmundson was also throwing down the gloves for the CH, but since he’s been traded, Xhekaj may have more work to do, especially with Reaves and Lucic facing the team on a regular basis.

Of course, there’s also Michael Pezzetta to contend with, but his spot isn’t guaranteed with the surplus of forwards in the lineup. There’s very little chance of Pezz playing the full complement of games, but he should be in the line-up against the stronger clubs.

Will Josh Anderson have to throw down the gloves more often to support Xhekaj?

Chances are good that he will, but there’s no guarantee that Anderson will stay with the team all season, as he’s a highly sought-after type of player across the league and could change address.

What’s more, there’s nothing to stop Kent Hughes from acquiring another goon or strong player despite the surplus of forwards, with rival clubs having strengthened at this level. To do so, he’ll have to clean house, and transactions will have to take place.

In short, the 2023-2024 season should be very interesting, and we could see Xhekaj establish himself as the league’s toughest player.

In brief

– You’ll agree: It’s incredible!

– The chances of the two young defenders becoming the first duo seem to be quite high.

– Nice gesture from Ian Cole.

– A duel not to be missed.

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