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Arber Xhekaj played injured for most of the season
Credit: Instagram @bre_tiesi/Getty Images

Everyone agrees that Arber Xhekaj’s start to the season was pretty disappointing. He didn’t look anything like the gritty player we met in his first NHL season in 2022-23.

However, during his end-of-season review on Tuesday, the defenseman revealed that he played almost the entire season with a left shoulder injury.

“It’s my fault, I was hiding it, I wanted to play.” – Arber Xhekaj

It’s understandable, especially after his poor start to the season. Let’s just say he had no choice but to step up and reclaim his spot if he hoped to sign a reasonable contract extension this summer. He will be a restricted free agent.

He was traded to the Laval Rocket in December following an injury, and spent just over a month there. It was on his return from Laval that he settled back into his regular position in the Habs line-up.

His 10 points in 44 games didn’t amount to much, but a closer look at his game showed him to be much more confident both defensively and offensively.

Xhekaj’s shoulder injury can be traced back to his junior hockey days, and he thought he would be able to play during the season and rest his shoulder in the off-season.

Unfortunately for him, the injury got the better of him and he had to forfeit the rest of the campaign. However, he reassured everyone that he should be back at 100% for training camp before next season.

On a more positive note, Arber Xhekaj was asked how he felt about one day playing with his brother in the NHL. Naturally, he explained that he’s extremely anxious and confident that it will happen one day. He also said that watching the two brothers play together will be a lot of fun.

Arber Xhekaj’s NHL entry-level contract will expire this summer, and he’ll have to find a new deal with Kent Hughes. It would be surprising to see him leave during the off-season, but anything can happen with so much traffic on the Habs’ blue line.

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