Skip to content
Jayden Struble must avoid falling into the same trap as Arber Xhekaj
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

It’s been a few months now since Jayden Struble was recalled to the NHL, and what we’ve noticed is that he really seems to be fitting in with the Canadiens. Struble, who is now 32 games into his Bettman career, is playing like a guy who is buying himself a long-term place in Montreal.

It’s pretty hard to predict what the club’s defensive brigade might look like in five years’ time, as the Hockey Inside/Out panelists realized, but Struble plays like a guy who could be part of it.

What’s quite striking, though, is how quickly Struble has managed to overtake some of the Habs’ younger defensemen in the pecking order. In fact, he’s supplanted most second-year defensemen: Justin Barron (sent back to Laval), Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj are all guys who are behind Struble right now.

However, last night’s Antichambre panelists made a good point: even if Struble plays like a guy who could be a big part of Montreal’s future brigade, he’ll have to be careful not to fall into certain traps.

In fact, he needs to make sure he doesn’t fall into the “second-year trap” (as Xhekaj is currently experiencing): it’s (fairly) easy to get to the NHL, but it’s hard to stay there.

Gilbert Delorme explains it well: on paper, Struble has all the makings of a fine career in the league (he sees him as a guy capable of playing a decade in the Bettman circuit), but the most important thing for him will be to keep things simple and avoid trying to do too much.

Because that’s often when things get complicated. Arber Xhekaj could tell you a bit about that.

Ironically, a guy like Xhekaj needs to take inspiration from what Struble is doing right now: both guys are kind of in the same mold, and the most important thing for them will be to keep things simple. At the moment, Struble is able to do that, but it seems more complicated for Xhekaj, for whom it seems to be going fast.

And in a few months, maybe Struble will be in the same situation: as he becomes comfortable in the NHL, that’s when mistakes can start to happen. That’s why Struble needs to learn from what happened with Xhekaj in recent months and make sure he doesn’t fall into the same trap.

If Struble can keep things simple and Xhekaj can do the same (which I really believe he can), it’s going to be a great battle for the Habs’ future on the blue line. It’ll be up to the two guys to show they can do it.

In gusto

– As expected, Alex Newhook and Jake Evans are in uniform this afternoon.

– Stars lineup updates for this afternoon.

– News from Connor Bedard.

– Kyle Connor is (really) happy to have Sean Monahan as a teammate.

– Great read.

More Content