Arber Xhekaj To Have Season Ending Shoulder Surgery, He Is Expected Back For Training Camp

Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

It’s been another tough season for the Montreal Canadiens, who have dealt with multiple injuries on top of mucking through the rebuild.

Arber Xhekaj is the latest victim of the injury bug, the club announced on Tuesday morning. The sophomore defenseman will undergo season ending shoulder surgery. It’s the opposite of the shoulder that he injured against the Edmonton Oilers last season. 

Xhekaj will have the surgery done by Dr. Peter Millett, as per Sportsnet Habs beat writer Eric Engels. Engels also stated that Dr. Millett is the same doctor that repaired Cole Caufield and Josh Anderson’s shoulders. Xhekaj had his right shoulder surgically repaired by the same specialist last season. 

It’s terrible news for the young defender who has had a promising season. Though there were some bumps along the way, his game has improved five-fold. There was already quite a bit of optimisim surrounding the defensive group heading into next year, but Xhekaj’s emergence as a solid two-way defender only further solidifies it. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Canadiens have dealt with their fair share of injuries in the past. Because of that, they have developed somewhat of a thick skin. It has also encouraged the team to remain prepared for anything and the next man up mentality has help the squad weather the storm. 

Kirby Dach has been out nearly the entire season, after he returned to the lineup to clash against his former team. The battle with the Blackhawks was Dach’s second game after returning to the lineup from a previous injury. it’s been a tough go for the whole team, but Xhekaj can draw inspiration from the positive attitude that Dach has maintained despite the hardship. 

Chris Wideman has also missed the entire season, Paul Byron was forced into early retirement due to hip issues and even Alex Newhook missed significant time with an ankle injury. Kaiden Guhle is also currently nursing and injury and Tanner Pearson missed time. It’s been far from smooth sailing, but the team has remained focused on their goal. 

After losing their captain and starting goalie of 10-plus years, this young team has been through a lot. Brendan Gallagher is finally healthy after dealing with his own fair share of ailments. Despite the roster being relatively inexperienced they have dealt with adversity.

Because of that, there is hope that the young, calloused group will be hardened when they reach the end of their rebuild. Xhekaj has bled red, white and blue since joining the organization and his second injury in as many seasons is proof that he lays it all on the line for the Canadiens. It seems to have spilled over to Michael Pezzetta and Jayden Struble, who despite being much smaller than Arber, have played the opposition just as tough. 

The toughness, grit and willingness to run through a wall for his teammates will be missed. But I expect that the Canadiens will finish this season off with a bang for their injured brethren. After all, that’s exactly how Xhekaj would have done it. 

Here’s to The Sheriff coming back better than ever for the 2024-25 season.