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Arber Xhekaj placed on the Canadiens' fourth line with Evans and Armia? A last resort option for Martin St-Louis

Published November 11, 2022 at 7:40 PM
BY JEFF DROUIN

With veteran left-handed defender Joel Edmundson back in the lineup, young back Arber Xhekaj had to play a little bit on the right side, even though he is left-handed, because there are currently too many lefties in the lineup.

Now that Mike Matheson (another lefty) is about to return to the game and rejoin the lineup, head coach Martin St-Louis will have to find new and creative ways to give Xhekaj opportunities.

He deserves to play in the NHL, but having five left-handed defensemen (out of six) is really not ideal.

Dennis Wideman brings a possible new solution.


Former NHL defenseman Dennis Wideman, who actually played a mentoring role with Xhekaj when he first arrived in the OHL, had some interesting comments about "Jacko's" versatility.

Kitchener Rangers assistant coach Wideman probably knows Xhekaj better than any of us:

"When he got here, he was (already) a big guy. He had some skills and good hands. But playing in a defensive system was a little bit difficult for him. He always had the ability to do it, I think he was just losing his focus. So we worked with him on the mental aspect of the game to keep him focused throughout his appearances and the game."

Wideman added that Xhekaj was even used as a forward on the Rangers' fourth line, and he did very well in that role. Could this give Martin St. Louis some ideas?

"He was a guy we absolutely had to have in the lineup with his big style of play, the way he played and fought. He's one of the hardest working kids we've ever had here. He was always in the best shape and he got better every year."

Because the Rangers absolutely wanted him in their lineup and because they didn't have that much room on defense, they employed him on their fourth line (much like Nicolas Deslauriers did a few years ago)

It's unlikely that Martin St-Louis would try this, but still, let's ask the question. Do you think Arber Xhekaj could be used on the Habs' fourth line, while waiting for Kent Hughes to fix his surplus of left-handed defensemen?

Xhekaj's mentor seems to think that Arber would do very well.

In short, this could possibly be a last resort option for Martin St-Louis, to find him a place in the lineup.

Let's look at the CH's current defensive squad:

Guhle (Left) - Savard (Right)
Edmundson (Left) - Xhekaj (Left)
Harris (Left Handed) - Kovacevic (Right Handed)

Where would you place Matheson?

Credit: Fanadiens.com

POLL
November 11   |   401 answers
Arber Xhekaj placed on the Canadiens' fourth line with Evans and Armia? A last resort option for Martin St-Louis

Would you want to see Xhekaj on a 4th line?

Yes! Would love to see that22054.9 %
No, keep him on D18145.1 %
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