Canadiens Recall Arber Xhekaj From Laval

The Hockey Writers

Just hours after placing Mitchell Stephens on waivers and loaning defenceman Justin Barron to the American Hockey League (AHL), the Montreal Canadiens have made another notable roster move. This time, they have recalled Arber Xhekaj from the Laval Rocket.

Xhekaj, 22, last played for the Canadiens on Nov. 16 when they faced off against the Vegas Golden Knights. During that contest, he suffered an upper-body injury after being hit by Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev. After recovering from his injury in early December, he was immediately sent down to the AHL. Now, after nearly two months, he is returning to the Canadiens’ blue line, much to the excitement of their fans.

Arber Xhekaj Montreal Canadiens
Arber Xhekaj, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Xhekaj has appeared in 17 games this season with the Canadiens, where he has one goal, two assists, 41 hits, and 47 penalty minutes. While with the Rocket, he played excellently, posting three goals and 11 points in 17 games. As a result, he has earned this call-up, and he will be aiming to build off it now that he is back with Montreal.

Related: Canadiens Loan Justin Barron to AHL & Waive Mitchell Stephens

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Xhekaj is likely to play on the Canadiens’ bottom pairing, taking over Barron’s spot. He will be expected to bring the immense physicality that he is famous for and a reliable defensive game.

In 68 career NHL games with the Canadiens, Xhekaj has six goals, 10 assists, 200 hits, and a minus-8 rating. It will be interesting to see how well he improves upon these career numbers now that he is back with the Canadiens from here.

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