Arber Xhekaj's Future Uncertain After Dispute With Martin St. Louis

Graham Montgomery
December 4, 2023  (6:43 PM)

Arber Xhekaj was an instant fan favorite when he signed with the Canadiens last year. The 22-year-old enforcer seemingly came out of nowhere, providing the team with a huge boost to moral. However, the novelty of his play style has since worn off a but and apparently Martin St. Louis' patients with the young blueliner has worn equally thin.

St. Louis Lays Into Xhekaj For Taking Unnecessary Penalties

Apparently, the Canadiens head coach had a serious conversation with the enforcer earlier this year, telling him he needs to stop taking so many unnecessary penalties. The young defenseman has been among the worst players in the league in terms of penalty differential since his NHL career started.
Interesting story from @GeorgesLaraque: he says MSL apparently ripped into Xhekaj after an L for being too aggressive and since then, Xhekaj has changed his game out of fear of being left out

He then says that he wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't finish the year in Montreal 🤯
This same X account went on to address this theory, agreeing that the youngster could learn to pick and choose his moments better, but went on to argue that he is still a valuable asset to the rebuilding team.
Xhekaj being too aggressive & taking a lot of penalties is a valid concern in his game & needs to be fixed

BUT, a Xhekaj fight when we've been down 4-0 could have done some good for the team recently

For me, the positives outweigh the negatives in his role on a 3rd pair

Xhekaj's Demotion To American Hockey League Looks Suspicious

The official reason for his demotion is unclear, but it seems that the team is treating it, or at least pretending to treat it, like a conditioning stint. However, this does not make much sense given the nature of the injury he is recovering from. Typically, players do not go on conditioning stints unless they have missed a significant amount of time as in multiple months.
What this means for Xhekaj's future remains to be seen, but he suddenly seems to have found himself in a weird situation with the Canadiens.