Kent Hughes about to bring a second Arber Xhekaj to Montreal?

David St-Jean
May 17, 2024  (3:01 PM)

Vincent Desharnais and Arber Xhekaj
Photo credit: Oilers Nation

Without a doubt, Arber Xhekaj is a fan favorite at the Bell Centre, and for good reason.

The towering defenseman imposes his will on the ice and is also a very skilled hockey player. Whether on the third pair, or even the second pair in a pinch, he is poised to have a very successful NHL career.
The big problem with his role on the Canadiens right now is that he is alone. Michael Pezzetta has some grit, but he shouldn't be a long-term fixture and lacks the size to intimidate many players.
The result is quite evident; Arber gets injured fairly frequently, especially his two shoulder injuries.
The first was caused by Vincent Desharnais of the Edmonton Oilers, another giant at 6'7" and 230 lbs from Laval.
Desharnais will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, and according to Marc-Olivier Beaudoin, who put himself in Kent Hughes' shoes, his acquisition would be very good for the Canadiens.
"I would sign Vincent Desharnais in free agency to play as the third right defenseman. If he accepts a reasonable contract, obviously.

Savard is likely to be traded at the deadline, so Desharnais could take over (not saying he's as good as Savard). Having Desharnais on the third pair also allows you to listen more seriously to offers on Arber Xhekaj in the short/medium term.

Erik Johnson is another short-term option if things don't work out with Desharnais to replace Savard's leadership. Alexandre Carrier gets a call from me but might ask for more than I would want to give." - Marc-Olivier Beaudoin

Imagine a duo of Xhekaj and Desharnais on the Canadiens' third pair. It would literally scare the opponents night after night.
Of course, this signing would almost guarantee that David Savard leaves, but he is in the final year of his contract in 2024-25, and it would be quite surprising if Kent Hughes extends him, given his value and the depth at this position.
MAY 17   |   434 ANSWERS
Kent Hughes about to bring a second Arber Xhekaj to Montreal?

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