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Arber Xhekaj doesn’t know how long he’ll be at Laval
24 hours after learning that he had been traded to the Laval Rocket, Arber Xhekaj trained with his new teammates, before speaking publicly with the few journalists present at Place Bell.

To say he looked like a monster on the ice is an understatement.

Basically, there are two things to take away from the Sheriff‘s press briefing.

1. He was surprised by Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton’s decision, but he understands why he was sent to Laval. He’d like to find his defensive bearings there, as his points were semi-present on the scoreboard in Montreal. Nor does he intend to change his robust style of play. Good, because that would be a mistake!

2. The Habs staff has not given Xhekaj a timeline as to how long he might stay in the other 450 (the one north of Montreal). Reminder: Xhekaj is not in Laval simply to get back into shape.

With seven defensemen currently healthy in Montreal – including Mattias Norlinder, whose role as the seventh defenseman who never plays didn’t fit Xhekaj, who needs to develop – and David Savard about to return to action, Xhekaj will have to prove he has nothing to learn in the AHL… and Gustav Lindstrom or Jayden Struble will have to screw up with the big club.

Or for another defenceman to get injured!

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Jordan Harris when he’s fit to return to action. He, too, may be surprised to find himself in Laval without a clear timetable…

Martin St-Louis says he’s not worried about Xhekaj’s demotion. He says outsiders are more concerned about it than he is, who sees it as part of the learning process. He sees it a bit like what happened with Justin Barron in the past.

Will the Rocket take the opportunity to try him out on the wing? The idea of making him a forward has been floating around for a long time, and his time in Laval could be the perfect time to try him out.

Or would we rather keep him on the blue line and test him with Logan Mailloux, for example?

Without it happening tomorrow, in what could be his first AHL game, let’s just say the idea is worth considering.

Arber Xhekaj earns an annual salary of $775,000 in the NHL, but only $70,000 in Laval. He received a $60,000 signing bonus last summer and will be eligible for restricted autonomy (without arbitration) next summer. The more time he spends in the AHL, the less money he’ll get…

Breaking news

– David Savard: his return is nearing, but he won’t play Thursday.

– Speaking of the Rocket.

– A name to keep an eye on.

– The ménage à trois is over?

– The Quebecer goes down.

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