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JF Houle doesn’t understand why Arber Xhekaj wasn’t drafted (first round)

As you know, Arber Xhekaj was never drafted in the NHL. The Habs signed him, and he quickly made the jump from Costco to the Flanelle’s defensive brigade.

We know the story. Maybe we don’t always think about it now that WiFi plays with the Laval Rocket, but it’s not forgotten.

We do know, however, that it’s only a matter of time before he returns to the NHL.

In the meantime, he’s in Laval to improve defensively and work with Jean-François Houle. And let’s just say that, after a rocky start, the Sheriff is really back.

As Arpon Basu (The Athletic) explained in an excellent article on the subject, Xhekaj had a full head of steam when he first arrived in Laval. That goes some way to explaining his performance.

The defenseman saw the huge congestion on the blue line throughout the organization and wanted to come back from injury to secure his place in the sun as soon as possible.

Obviously, it didn’t work.

But now he’s at home in Laval. Under Jean-François Houle, the Sheriff is back to his old self. And let’s just say it’s made a big impression on the Rocket coach.

To tell the truth, he can’t understand why Xhekaj was never drafted. He loves his offensive qualities, including his shooting and skating.

He’s got skills for a guy who wasn’t drafted. It’s crazy that he slipped through the cracks in the floor. It’s hard to understand.

The Canadiens were lucky. – JF Houle

In the eyes of Réjean Houle’s son, Xhekaj is a first-round pick. He considers him to be just as good as Justin Barron… and even a little more offensive than the former Avalanche.

Remember that Barron is a first-round pick.

Houle likes the impact Xhekaj has on the club, but especially on Logan Mailloux. He feels that the calm presence of the NHL veteran helps Mailloux, who is in his first season in Laval.

It’s true that Mailloux has taken a step forward in recent weeks… and that’s by playing with the Sheriff. Could the two eventually play together in Montreal? It’s not completely impossible, I suppose.

In gusto

– Jake Allen in net tonight.

– Of note.

– This is making us old.

– Slaf still has room for improvement.

– Ouch.

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