Arber Xhekaj, Montreal Canadiens Star Rookie

Arber Xhekaj is a 22-year-old defensive rookie for the Montreal Canadiens, and his play has stood him out from the rest; he has an undeniable physical presence totaling 27 hits so far this season, the most for any player on the Canadiens roster, 11 more than the second-highest hitter right-winger Josh Anderson. Xhekaj also shows offensive potential. He has the second most points among Canadiens defencemen and fourth most on the team.

Xhekaj has both an offensive and defensive way of playing. He isn’t afraid to take a shot on the net; so far, he’s taken 14, the most among the Canadiens rookies and the 7th most on the team. In total, he’s attempted 32 shots, the third most on the team. You can also see his aggression when he plays; he can also read the game well; his goal happened as he sniped it from the blue line, sending it through multiple screens as Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger nearly grabbed it with his glove.

Xhekaj’s Defensive side can be seen in his ability to hit; he’s not afraid of contact. At 6’3, he is among the tallest on his team, and he uses his size to his advantage in battling for the puck. He also has gotten in his first NHL fight (and won) (if you want to see it, it’s linked above) against Zach Kassian; He dominated the fight and showed us that he can be just as powerful as he was in the OHL last season when he played for the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Xhekaj also blocks shots, even though he doesn’t have as many blocks as David Savard the 22 year-old keeps coming in clutch with 10 game saving blocks helping at keeping wins alive and keeping the scores of losses low. He is a key part of Offensive zone starts, he and Chris Wideman are the two defenders who take the majority of these starts, He also has the second highest Corsi of the team Corsi is a combination of Shots+Blocks+Misses his is 126 meaning he has a strong D base but also a way of handling the puck.

If you want to see more of Xhekaj’s impact offensively through stats, you can use his offensive point share (OPS), which is the number of points he contributes to his team. This number is found by figuring out the marginal point share (goals created) – (7 / 12) × (time on ice) × ((goals created by forwards or defensemen) / (time on ice for forwards or defensemen)) then that is taken and divided by marginal goals per point (league goals) / (league points) which you finally divide (marginal goals) / (marginal goals per point) then you have your point share, unlike other sports, you can have a negative point share meaning you don’t contribute positively to point you prevent them from happening. Xhekaj has a share of 0.3, the fourth highest on the team and the first among Canadiens defencemen.

If Arber Xhekaj keeps this up he is my personal pick for the Calder trophy.