Montreal Canadiens defenceman Arber Xhekaj scored his 1st NHL goal, showing he can do much more than just fight.
After setting up the Canadiens’ first goal of the game, Xhekaj added to the career-high offensive output by potting his first goal, off a shot from the point.
In a game against a physical and intense Dallas Stars, Xhekaj showed off his offensive ability, along with his usual toughness, and looked like the more noticeable defender for the Canadiens.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) October 23, 2022
And who could forget Xhekaj’s fight against Zack Kassian on Thursday?
It was Xhekaj’s first official regular season fight in the NHL and Kassian‘s 40th, but the fight didn’t last long, with Xhekaj landing a couple of clean right hooks right off the bat. Kassian quickly reacted to the unreasonable amount of pain sent his way, but couldn’t escape the Xhekaj barrage, which then shifted to body shots.
Montreal rookie Arber Xhekaj gets the better of Zack Kassian in a fight pic.twitter.com/KMZvjURqmL
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 20, 2022
Other than his ability to ragdoll veteran NHL players with reckless abandon, like an angry Hulk tossing around helpless Loki, Xhekaj can also absorb much of the opposition’s ire, which makes life easier for the rest of his teammates.
Arber Xhekaj is doing his best to put the Montreal Canadiens in a bind, as the injured Joel Edmundson is set to return in the near future. Witj Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris also seemingly looking like bonafide NHL defencemen, performances like this from Xhekaj will only prompt the Canadiens to try and make room for these youngsters or make some tough decisions about who to send down to Laval.
Regardless of which player is sent to the AHL, the mere fact that there’s a discussion as to which rookie deserves to be sent down is a very positive sign for the team and their youth movement on defence, given the discussion revolves around the group of young defencemen defying all reasonable expectations.