Montreal Canadiens: What Will Habs Lineup Look Like In 2025-26

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Pair Three - Arber Xhekaj/Jayden Struble-Justin Barron

I can’t think of a better defender than Xhekaj to put on the third pair. And I think that Struble has a higher potential than both Barron and Xhekaj. Because of that, I have three defensemen instead of two. 

Xhekaj is the physical menace who can chip in offensively, defend well and punch opponents' heads off their shoulders if he tries. Struble, the steady, physical presence with such beautiful edges and elite mobility. And Barron, the shooter, whose strong offence masks some of his defensive inefficiencies. 

In the interest of having three balanced pairs, with a right and left shot defender, Barron slots in with Xhekaj. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Struble slotted in on his weak side, and still impacted the game at a high level. Barron is sort of the hard one to predict, you hope that he can correct the mental mistakes, but if he struggles, Struble could most certainly fill his role. 

This group of seven defenders could be the group that brings the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup berth. With a combination of skill, speed, talent and physicality, I would love to see this group grow together. Surely the blueline will contribute to the Canadiens goal totals.