Arber Xhekaj is not your ordinary rookie. He wasn’t picked in the NHL Draft but signed his first Pro-contract with the Montreal Canadiens last autumn. For the entire past season, he was loaned to the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL.
This summer, Xhekaj proved himself worthy of a spot in the NHL, and he’s shown that the Canadiens coaching staff was right for believing in him.
Everybody dropped their jaws when Xhekaj destroyed Zack Kassian in a fight in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign. And Xhekaj’s journey from working at Costco to playing in the NHL in under two years has inspired many.
However, the Montreal Canadiens’ blue line is pretty packed, And Xhekaj really needs to keep improving and impressing if he wants to stay in the NHL, and last night, he made a memorable play against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Xhekaj is a big and strong guy, and in the matchup, he really showed that he knows how to use his body. Late in the first period, Blue Jackets forward Liam Foudy was trying to advance into Montreal’s zone. But Xhekaj had a different idea and instead picked Foudy up and launched him into the Habs bench.
Later in the game, Arber Xhekaj also dropped the gloves against Mathieu Olivier for his second NHL fight. He wasn’t as successful as in his first fight against Kassian, but he still showed courage and that you shouldn’t mess with him.