Arber Xhekaj has taken the NHL by storm and is already a cult hero in Montreal. Just two years ago, Xhekaj was working at Costco, and he wasn’t drafted into either OHL or NHL.
If somebody had told him then that he would be one of the most popular players in the NHL in just two years, he would probably not believe it. But that’s just what happened. Last autumn, Xhekaj signed a three-year contract with the Canadiens, and after a great season on loan with the Kitchener Rangers, he put in a shift this summer.
During pre-season, Xhekaj was everywhere. He got into fights, played great defensive hockey, and it didn’t take long for him to produce in the NHL. Just three games into the season and in his NHL career, he scored his first point. And last week, against the Arizona Coyotes, Xhekaj got everybody’s jaw to drop in an incredible fight against veteran Zack Kassian.
The rookie destroyed Kassian in the fight, and now, new details show that Xhekaj’s first NHL fight was even more impressive than we previously thought.
According to a former NHL player, Xhekaj knew exactly what he was doing in the fight and showed great perception.
“One retired player pointed out how Xhekaj smartly realized Kassian was adjusting his elbow pads, pouncing on the veteran’s mistake of taking his eye off an opponent. That ex-player added every NHLer would notice Xhekaj is not just tough, but also very perceptive,” Elliotte Friedman wrote in his 32 Thoughts.
In the game after the fight with Kassian, against Dallas Stars, Xhekaj scored his first goal and had an assist. He’s also made fan laugh when he talked about his nickname, “Wifi,” in the Canadiens team.
“You know how a Wifi password usually looks something like my last name?” Xhekaj said to reporters.