Arber Xhekaj’s Presence is Missed on the Canadiens’ Blueline

Curtis Hubscher

Staff Writer

Coming into this season, it was well known that the Habs blueline would be weak. With only three returnees, there were lots of question marks. Arber Xhekaj’s name was floating around, but fans weren’t aware of how good he actually was.

 After an impressive training camp, Xhekaj was told he’d made the opening night roster, along with Kaiden Ghule, Jordan Harris and Juraj Slafkovsky. That’s when we really found out what Xhekaj was made of. Booming body checks and heavyweight fights defined the 6 foot 4, 238 pound blueliner, but his sneaky offensive skill didn’t go unnoticed. His strong play and distinguished personality kept him in the lineup all year.

That was until he was injured in a fight on February 10th against the Oilers. We can only speculate but it appears it’s a shoulder injury. At the time of writing this he’s listed as out indefinitely.

Ever since the injury, the Canadiens just haven’t felt the same. Their defence is getting pushed around, and opposing teams players are playing without the fear of getting hit or punched by number 72.

 His replacement, Chris Wideman (a 5’10 defenseman) hasn’t been great. He finished a game against the Hurricanes -4 and took an interference penalty.

There have been a lot of injuries for the Habs this year, but this one feels more painful than the rest, because Xhekaj brings an element to the team that is quite unique in the NHL. A presence.