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Canadiens Prospect Florian Xhekaj Involved In Heavyweight Fight

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Florian Xhekaj Montreal canadie

The CHL playoffs are in full swing, which means several Montreal Canadiens prospects are playing crucial roles for their respective teams.

Both Owen Beck and Filip Mesar have scored an impressive six points in their first two games, a rather encouraging sign for players who are expected to make the jump to professional hockey next season.

But there’s one Habs prospect who has not received as much attention as Beck or Mesar, despite improving his scoring pace by leaps and bounds this season.

Florian Xhekaj was chosen in the fourth round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and though you won’t see much criticism of the pick today, the same cannot be said on draft day.

Of course, we do have to admit that Xhekaj was a surprise pick. He was unranked by most outlets, and though his brother Arber had exceeded all expectations during his time in the NHL, there was no guarantee Florian would do the same.

MUST READ: It’s Time To Put More Respect On Arber Xhekaj’s Name

While agreeing to pick Florian in the fourth round, the Montreal Canadiens’ scouting crew used a term we hear a little too often in the NHL. He was yet another ‘unicorn’, a player that would take a little longer to find his rhythm, but would eventually make an impact once he had a chance to prove his worth.

Florian had only managed to score 13 goals and 12 assists in 68 games, the type of scoring pace that rarely results in an NHL calibre player.

Admittedly, I wasn’t convinced, but given Arber’s development, there was certainly logic to the idea that the Xhekaj family produces a special breed of athlete.

Fast forward a season, and the ‘unicorn’ tag is starting to make sense.

He scored an impressive 34 goals and 31 assists in 63 games for the Brantford Bulldogs in 2023-24, pushing his season-ending scoring pace from 0.37 points per game to 1.03 points per game.

And to make matters more interesting, like his brother, Florian can hold his own when it comes to heavyweight tilts, as evidenced by his lively fight with Ottawa 67’s defenceman Matthew Mayich on Sunday.

More importantly, in addition to winning the fight, Xhekaj also scored the opening goal of the game and added an assist to his tally in the third period.

It’s too early to suggest Florian Xhekaj will definitely follow in his brother’s footsteps, but it does seem like the Montreal Canadiens have potentially added yet another ‘unicorn’ to the mix.

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Tyrone

For me, Xhekaj this season has jumped way up the list of prospects we have hopes for in the future in order to build a championship roster. Assuming they achieve the potential we hope they will… Hutson fulfills the need of a PP quarterback and elite offensive weapon on the back end. Beck fulfills the need for a shutdown centre and faceoff wizard. Fowler fulfills the need for an ice in his veins, technically precise goalie that gets job done at the most important occasions. Florian Xhekaj for me is our Tom Wilson of the future. He’s the big beast that can play with skilled players and chip in offensively, while also allowing his teammates to play their best by keeping the opponent on their best behaviour, just like Arber does for the defence. I think synergistically, the Xhekaj brothers will be even better together on our team than independently. The boost the two of them will provide to every other player in our lineup is going to be an extremely valuable intangible that we’re going to need in order to make it out the the Atlantic Division in the playoff wars soon to come. I’m very excited to see the 2 guys on the team together in the future. Not only will they be entertaining, and provide us with plenty of highlights to enjoy through the years, I also believe that both will become difference makers if properly developed and allowed to play to their strengths.

Jay

I hope FX doesn’t turn into Tom Wilson clone; TW often plays dirty and has been suspended 6 times since 2017. He also has a huge number of penalties every year. That doesn’t help a team’s efforts. Also fight lead to more injuries for the player. Wifi has learned this lesson this season; he still plays tough, but realizes that he helps the Habs by staying on the ice and playing great hockey.

Tyrone

I was think more like prime Tom Wilson when every team in the league was coveting having a player like him on their team, not so much the guy we’ve seen for years since.

Dana

I projected Florian as a fourth line energy guy that will cause the opposition pain and anxiety .

I don’t think we need him to be a Chris Nilan, but his intimidating presence along with average NHL skills will make him valuable beyond his stats. I think he only had 80 pim so it’s not like he’s fighting every night ( his fight with Sawyer Bolton earlier this year was about as good a fight as I saw all year) , so he’s not hurting his team by frequently putting them down a man.

He has a good release, drives the net and plants there, wins puck battles and allow his teammates to play “bigger”, all things that will transition nicely to a future role on a very competitive Habs squad. Think Matt Martin type with better scoring touch?

Mike P

If he can be a cheaper less effective Brady Tkachuk I’m good with that.

Dana

Outside Brady not being on our team, lots to like about that guys game.

mikeysl

I dont want to just throw away players…. and we dont know how the development curve will play out but it could be in a few years we have

zuke/goal/slaf
dach/newk/roy
beck/mesar/kidney
xhekaj/kapanen/davidson

guhle-reinbachorr
hutson-mailox
xhekaj-barron/engstrom/struble/harris

is that a team that will contend?

Dana

Maybe a dark horse contender, few big holes up front when compared to what other teams counter with. This list doesn’t contain any non organizational players like the ones we will draft this year and next, free agent adds and trades- can’t add those names at this point as we have limited ideas of who, but there will be some high end talent added