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The Canadian understands that it takes time for a Xhekaj to reach physical maturity.

When the Habs drafted Florian Xhekaj, there was a lot of talk. After all, he didn’t exactly fit the profile of a fourth-round pick, but that’s where the CH drafted him.

And why? Because the CH is in a better position than anyone to know that Xhekaj develops late in life.

It’s easy to take the example of Arber Xhekaj and say that the CH saw the same thing in Florian. After all, Arber was never drafted, but if he were traded today, the CH would have an excellent return for his services.

It won’t happen: I’m just saying that to make my point.

So it might be easy to say that the Habs drafted Florian because he’s the other guy’s brother, and because they hope his progression curve will follow that of his big (and imposing) brother.

But the reality is that while the CH did consider Florian Xhekaj because of his last name, there were other factors that made him a draft choice. And that’s what Nicolas Cloutier (TVA Sports) reported after a few discussions on the subject.

Among the factors, we know that late growth is one of them. Xhekaj grow late… but when they do, the results are, well, spectacular.

Arber Xhekaj is 6’4 and weighs 238 pounds, according to Hockey DB. And now his brother, who has just turned 19, is also approaching the 6’4 mark. A few years ago, Florian was 5’9…

His Brantford trainer, Jay McKee, says he’s gained mass and strength. He’s grown so much that McKee refrains from putting a limit on his potential.

He’s now his team’s biggest player and has gained in confidence. Add to that a better skating stroke and improved puck control, and the Bulldogs have a transformed player.

You’re going to see a much better offensive performance from him this season. – Jay McKee

This is clearly an aspect that had people talking. After all, his 25 points in 68 games as an 18-year-old in the OHL (in a rebuilding club) weren’t necessarily incredible, and that’s what made people wonder if Florian had been drafted because of his brother.

But Xhekaj’s selection at the last auction goes further than that. After all, several teams saw Arber and Florian play this year and could have made the connection between the two brothers.

However, the CH has a few trump cards up its sleeve.

McKee was also Arber Xhekaj’s first coach when the latter played in Kitchener. He is therefore well placed to draw comparisons between the two young men.

But he’s also well placed to tell the important people. Because he may know it, but it’s got to be known.

After all, the coach of the Bulldogs (who are now in Brantford instead of Hamilton for the short term) could tell his GM. And his GM is Matt Tarek, the man who recommended Arber Xhekaj to the CH during his days as a Canadien scout.

Today, Tarek is no longer employed by the Habs due to a conflict of interest that was created by his new position as GM of the Bulldogs.

That said, he can still sing the praises of his players, including Florian Xhekaj, to the Bulldogs’ owner. The owner’s name is Michael Andlauer, and he’ll be officially buying the Ottawa Senators next.

But which NHL team has Andlauer been a minority shareholder with for years? I’ll give two pieces of robot to those who answered the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs couldn’t afford to lose the young man… and they managed to draft him. We’ll see in a few years if it pays off.

In bursts

– Really?

– We’re not forgetting him.

– The division is strong.

– Is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on his way out?

– He’s human.

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