Skip to content
Arber Xhekaj could start the season as seventh defenseman (or in Laval)

Barring a huge surprise, the rest of the Habs’ summer should be fairly quiet. In fact, aside from a new contract for Jesse Ylönen and a potential deal to take on a bad contract (since the CH has money), Kent Hughes doesn’t have much work to do between now and the start of training camp.

That said, once camp starts, there will be some serious questions for the CH. Right now, there are a lot of players in town, and there’s a lot of talk about congestion up front, which could hurt guys like Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Michael Pezzetta.

On the other hand, in addition to the attack and the situation in front of the net (when Cayden Primeau will have to go through the ballot), there’s also congestion on the blue line. In reality, we know that Mike Matheson, David Savard and Kaiden Guhle will be regulars, but after that, things get complicated.

For the three remaining regular positions, we can expect a battle between Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj, Johnathan Kovacevic and Justin Barron. Logan Mailloux could muddy the waters, but for now, let’s assume he’ll start in Laval.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the list, I can’t help but think how much the CH needed to trade Edmundson to open up space on the blue line. Congestion is really intense right now, and it would have been even more so with Edmundson.

Since Kovacevic and Barron are right-handed, it’s safe to assume that they have a certain edge over the other two for reasons of balance. With Savard, they would be the three right-handers in the club.

This would mean a battle between Harris and Xhekaj for the last regular position, and I tend to agree with Marc Dumont that #54 has a slight edge over Xhekaj.

Doing so would make Xhekaj the club’s seventh defenseman (or, since he doesn’t have to go through the ballot, he could go play bigger minutes in Laval).

Personally, I expect Chris Wideman to be the club’s seventh defenseman one way or another, and since I don’t expect the CH to keep eight defensemen with the big club, that would send a youngster to Laval.

And again, if Mailloux were to muddy the waters, it would complicate things even more, but I expect a battle between him and Barron. Both don’t have to go through the ballot, and the best of the two will play in the NHL, in my opinion.

So, since Xhekaj is, in my eyes, the fourth-best left-handed defenseman in town (behind Matheson, Guhle and Harris), that would send him off to play big minutes in Laval. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing: he’d get plenty of playing time and be the first one called up in case of injury.

At the same time, his ability to defend his team-mates could buy him a place in the big club. It’s not a simple question.

There’s also a scenario in which the CH decides to keep four left-handed defensemen (Matheson, Guhle, Harris and Xhekaj) and sends Barron to Laval. Kovacevic has to go through the ballot, so I don’t expect the Habs to take such a risk.

In the end, then, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Xhekaj start the season in Laval. That said, we know that injuries can happen quickly, so I still expect him to spend a good part of the year in the NHL.

In brief

– The CH goaltender lent himself to the game. I love to see it.

– Take two minutes to watch this. It’s worth your time.

– André Tourigny thinks big for Dylan Guenther.

– Magnifique.

– Signing in Florida.

More Content