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Robustness: the Habs question prospects using Arber Xhekaj’s example
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It may only be two years since Arber Xhekaj became an NHL player, but what’s clear is that the defenseman isn’t afraid of the rugged game. The defenseman is capable of delivering big checks, and above all, he’s not afraid to throw down the gloves.

But he’ll have to be careful not to ruin his shoulders, which have bothered him in each of his two seasons.

But clearly, in Montreal, he’s loved. Kent Hughes systematically refuses to trade him even when teams call about him, and they seem to want to keep him in town.

He’s the kind of player who can help you when it gets physical, after all.

And obviously, Xhekaj’s toughness also helps the Habs to cook up some prospects: as Mathias Brunet noted on the Process podcast, echoing the words of Guillaume Lefrançois, the Habs can ask the prospects how they’d react if Xhekaj threw down the gloves against them.

Sacha Boisvert replied that he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same.

Obviously, it’s easy for the Habs to use Xhekaj as an example, given that he’s in their backyard, but if he’s the example they use to measure the recklessness of their prospects, it’s because the Habs really do hold his toughness and physicality in high regard.

Hard to disagree, let’s say.

Mike Matheson, who was at La Poche Bleue tonight, also talked a bit about Xhekaj. He too talked about his toughness, saying that he’s a player you want on your team in the playoffs, but he also mentioned that beyond the physical game, Xhekaj’s skills will get him where he wants to be.

He’s clearly thinking big for his young teammate.

Matheson, who tries to mentor his young teammates, also spoke of the “luck” of the group of young defensemen in town, who have the chance to build something special by all being together and having a coach like Martin St-Louis.

And clearly, the Habs seem to see Xhekaj as an important piece of this “lucky” group… to the point where they’re using him to cook up some prospects. Maybe that’s a misinterpretation, but using him as a reference point to ask questions like that gives me the impression that the club really, really has no intention of sending him elsewhere.


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– That seems the most likely scenario.

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