HabsWorld.net -- 

After a rough couple of games, the Habs are making some roster changes.  The team announced on Monday that they’ve placed centre Mitchell Stephens on waivers and assigned blueliner Justin Barron to Laval while recalling Arber Xhekaj.

Stephens has been up with Montreal since early December due to their injuries up front.  He has been an every-game regular since then, suiting up 23 times, picking up two goals and an assist in nine minutes a night of action while winning over 55% of his faceoffs.

It would appear his roster spot will be earmarked for the pending return of Tanner Pearson.  That said, demoting Stephens would drop the Habs down to three centres so it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s another middleman brought up soon.  Alternatively, Montreal could keep Stephens up in which case his waiver clock would simply be reset to 10 more games or 30 days.

As for Barron, he has been in and out of the lineup as of late and his playing time has been cut considerably lately.  He’s averaging 18:47 per game but hasn’t reached that mark in a game since late December.  He has recorded six goals and six assists through 41 games so far but with his declining ice time, a short-term stint in Laval – not unlike the one Xhekaj was on – makes some sense.

Xhekaj, meanwhile, was sent down in early December and has been a fixture on the top pairing for the Rocket for most of that time, getting the ice time and puck touches that weren’t available with the Habs.  He fared quite well while being partnered with Logan Mailloux, picking up three goals and eight assists in 17 games.  Montreal now only has two right-shot defenders on its roster but with Kaiden Guhle playing on his off-side lately, he’ll likely remain in that role for the next little while, making room for another left-shot player in Xhekaj.