Montreal Canadiens: Why Struble Leapfrogged Xhekaj

Montreal Canadiens v Vegas Golden Knights
Montreal Canadiens v Vegas Golden Knights / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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Jayden Struble Is Staying Put With Habs

Jayden Struble
Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Struble is a case of a player, who physically can handle bigger and stronger opponents. But equally, he is the beneficiary of significant time in the gym and battling against older players than that of Xhekaj. This has given him the comfort and trust in his skills to outmuscle, outskate or outwit opponents.

Fortunately for Struble, he has taken the vote of confidence from St. Louis and ran with it. He was by no means an offensive dynamo in the NCAA. But the way he rushes the puck and uses his brilliant edgework to evade defenders is impressive. 

While he can rush the puck through the neutral zone and create chances by himself, he isn’t a one-trick pony. Defensively, he is difficult to play against because he is so strong and quick, that is precisely why he rarely gets beat. Positionally he is always ready to defend, presenting a well-positioned defensive stick, which is disruptive. If that doesn’t work, he staples opponents into the boards with big hits. 

His growth is very impressive, and it was rumoured that while he was called up, it could be more to see the ins and outs of the NHL. His debut wasn’t a guarantee, but he remained ready. His play has made it impossible to take him out of the lineup.

Justin Barron and Jonathan Kovacevic have rotated starts. But along with Kaiden Guhle, Mike Matheson and David Savard, Struble has cemented himself as a regular on the Habs blueline. Struble is a product of the Habs' focus on building a strong defence.