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Florian Xhekaj Defied The Odds To Earn His Entry-Level Contract

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Montreal Canadiens prospect FLorian Xhekaj

The Montreal Canadiens have announced they have signed prospect Florian Xhekaj to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The move comes just days after Xhekaj’s OHL club, the Brantford Bulldogs, was eliminated in the playoffs. Despite being a fourth-round pick, Xhekaj has done all he can to convince Canadiens management that he brings value to the table.

As previously discussed, Xhekaj’s excellent play is noteworthy for more reasons than one.

Arber Xhekaj Contract Options

To put it mildly, Florian didn’t just improve his production for the Bulldogs, he blew all expectations out of the water, as is often the case for a player hailing from the Xhekaj family.

In 2022-23, his first year in the OHL, Xhekaj earned 13 goals and 12 assists in 68, an underwhelming level of production.

In 2023-24, Xhekaj scored 34 goals and 31 assists in 63 games, pushing his points-per-game ratio from 0.37 to 1.03.

Another way of putting it is that he went from getting a point from every third game to registering his name on the scoresheet during most outings.

He was given an opportunity and he seized with the type of commanding force we’ve come to expect from a Xhekaj.

 

The contract will only kick in next year, which means Xhekaj was free to sign a professional tryout (PTO) with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket.

Since he is not currently under contract with the Canadiens, the PTO approach will allow Xhekaj to participate in the Calder Cup playoffs if the Rocket were to qualify. This was the same approach taken by the Habs when they offered forward Joshua Roy an entry-level contract.

Don’t expect Xhekaj to immediately jump into the lineup, as Jean-Francois Houle is likely to give him some time to adjust to his new settings, his new teammates, and most importantly, the lack of time and space in professional hockey.