BREAKING: Arber Xhekaj Comments on His Demotion to the AHL

Published December 5, 2023 at 4:49 PM

In a surprising move, the Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday afternoon that defenseman Arber Xhekaj was demoted to the Laval Rocket, even though he was officially ready to return to play.

Contrary to some beliefs that his assignment to the affiliate team was for fitness reasons, journalist Luc Gelinas confirmed that this was not the case. Xhekaj was sent to the American Hockey League to improve his defensive play, an area where he had been struggling before his injury.

The 22-year-old defenseman attended the Laval Rocket's training this morning, wearing the farm team's uniform for the first time in his career. He commented on Kent Hughes' decision, stating that he was surprised but intended to use this opportunity to improve and force the management to recall him soon.

"It's a bit of a surprise, but what they told me makes sense from the organization's perspective. They want me to play more minutes to develop my game.

They want me to work on my defensive game, they are not worried about the offense. They want me to be strong defensively and that's what I want to be." - Arber Xhekaj

Despite the initial disappointment, Xhekaj arrived at Place Bell with a commendable attitude, aware that he needs to continue working hard to be more reliable in his defensive zone. He also emphasized his desire not to change his playing style, as he wants to maintain his physical presence.

Laval Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle indicated that the Canadiens did not provide a timeline for the 22-year-old's development. This means that if Jayden Struble continues to perform well, Xhekaj could spend more time than expected in the AHL.

However, this demotion could be beneficial for "Wifi," as he will get quality minutes and play a key role in the Rocket's defense. Justin Barron is a perfect example of this; the former Colorado Avalanche player became an essential part of Martin St-Louis' lineup after a few games in the American Hockey League.

It's also important to remember that Xhekaj is still very young, and a stint with the Rocket is quite common for players of his age, especially considering that he was never drafted in the NHL.

December 5   |   143 answers
BREAKING: Arber Xhekaj Comments on His Demotion to the AHL

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