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Opposing scouts interested in Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble

Of course, there’s been a lot of talk lately about goalie rotation, and rightly so. After all, it has to stop, and I don’t know how many times we’ve listed the reasons why.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on a less crucial issue, but one that Kent Hughes will eventually have to resolve: the left side of the defense.

To date, Montreal has four left-handed players in its 23-man roster (Jayden Struble, Mattias Norlinder, Mike Matheson and Kaiden Guhle), two on the injured list (Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj) and many more in the NCAA, junior, Laval and Europe…

With the depth on this side, most of these defensemen will have to leave, and according to Marc Dumont and Marco D’Amico, now is the time to trade certain defensemen like Arber Xhekaj, whose value is on the rise. The same goes for Jayden Struble, who has been performing very well in the National League so far.

According to both columnists, Xhekaj and Struble are perceived by management as having a higher value than their real estimate. The two left-handed players aren’t scoring in abundance, but their physical and defensive game is so important that a GM will have to pay more to acquire them.

With Lane Hutson coming to the end of his college year (according to D’Amico), spots are going to start getting scarce. And with Mike Matheson and Kaiden Guhle guaranteed a position, that leaves even fewer spots.

This is one of the reasons why Hughes will have to swap one of his defenders for a forward, preferably.

What’s more, the three left-handers (Xhekaj, Harris and Struble) are causing quite a stir throughout the NHL. Since the start of the year, a lot of scouts have been attending Habs and Rocket games, and it’s probably to see these three, among others.

D’Amico was in Laval the other night and overheard scouts talking about the Canadiens’ protégés and ranking them in order of importance.

Why not? After all, a guy like Xhekaj is a rarity in the NHL and he could be a great asset for the Montreal GM. One thing’s for sure: we don’t want another defenseman. And Dumont and D’Amico talked about Montreal’s surplus of backs. They admitted that they would be surprised to see the team draft another defenseman very early in the next draft.

In 2024, while there are plenty of talented young defensemen who should be selected in the first round, the priority should be on a forward who can change the face of the team. I doubt the Habs will win the lottery, but a player like Macklin Celebrini, who would have been the second choice behind Connor Bedard in 2023, could completely transform the team. What’s more, the Boston University forward has an affinity with Lane Hutson. This duo would certainly be effective on the power play in Montreal…

Cole Eiserman and Ivan Demidov are no slouches either.

In short, it’s time to think about adding more offensive power to Montreal. Will this involve a transaction? One thing is certain: certain defensive elements are attracting the interest of opposing scouts.

In a row

– Another Rocket defeat.

– Good Saturday for the kids.

– Kaiden Guhle, a Drew Doughty 2.0? [98,5]

– Another reason to be patient with Slaf.

– To be continued.

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