The Edmonton Oilers are doing an excellent job of adding big forwards to their prospect cluster, but they need these men to be fast enough to play at the NHL level and skilled enough to contribute at least a little offensively. In placing Jujhar Khaira at No. 7 overall, the bet is he’ll be able to do both.
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER SEVEN ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: D Jeff Woywitka (278)
- December 2005: L Alexei Mikhnov (2)
- December 2006: G Devan Dubnyk (171)
- December 2007: C Riley Nash (130)
- December 2008: D Jeff Petry (256)
- December 2009: D Jeff Petry (256)
- December 2010: C Tyler Pitlick (10)
- December 2011: D Martin Gernat (0)
- December 2012: C Jujhar Khaira (0)
- December 2013: D Anton Belov (57)
Jeff Petry is an absolute success story, I remember Guy Flaming was always strong on his potential but my list had him pegged as ‘one in a group’ with Taylor Chorney and Cody Wild. Asked and answered, Petry is an actual NHL player. Riley Nash took his time but he’s also emerging as a legit NHL player, and Devan Dubnyk is repairing the damage last year did to his career. Recent products like Pitlick, Gernat and Khaira are still writing their stories.
- Redline: we believe this kid could be the biggest/best sleeper of the entire draft. Prince George is so far off the beaten path teams don’t even travel there for WHL games, much less BCHL contests, so he gets zero exposure. But this kid is big, mean, aggressive, nasty, and guess what… he can score too. Does the dirty work in the corners, bangs bodies and wins battles, and loves to initiate heavy contact. Powerful stride with great balance and gets leverage on his hits. Has surprisingly soft hands and puck skills with playmaking ability. Creates lots of space for smaller teammates and makes everyone braver. Very raw defensively.
POINTS BY DISCIPLINE BEFORE TURNING PRO, JUJHAR KHAIRA
|KHAIRA 2012-13 (NCAA)||37, 2-14-16 .432||37, 4-4-8 .216||37, 0-0-0||37, 6-18-24|
|KHAIRA 2013-14 (WHL)||59, 9-17-26 .441||59, 7-10-17 .288||59, 0-0-0||59, 16-27-43|
His NHLE’s over three years (82, 6-11-17; 82, 5-18-23 and 82, 6-10-16) before turning pro suggested we’re looking at a PF who has some issues offensively. Although the Oilers have better offensive players I’ve ranked below Khaira in this year’s Top 20, the combination of skills offered by the big man are compelling. There’s also a chance he develops more offense (for instance, he has been used at times by Todd Nelson as the F in front of the net on the power play) but we’ve surrounded him as an offensive player with the equivalencies.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2012: 15
- Winter 2012: 7
- Summer 2013: 6
- Winter 2013: 5
- Summer 2014: 10
- Winter 2014: 7
The Oilers spent much of 2012 trying to find a big forward with enough skill to play in the top 6F. I think the idea was ‘get a guy who could develop and then if he doesn’t we can still find a use for him in the bottom 6F’ and Khaira looks like he’s on the way to covering the second bet.
- Todd Nelson: “He thinks the game really well on the ice and when you couple that with the size and skill he has, it’s going to be a very bright future for him. He’s an intelligent guy. He knows what he has to do to get better and he works hard at it. With his size and maturity and the way he approaches the game, who knows where his top level is, but I think the future is looking really positive for him.”
- Todd Nelson: “We’ve seen flashes of what JJ can be. He just needs time to mature. We’re trying to mould JJ into a two-way centreman, somebody who can kill penalties, late in games trying to preserve a game. He has the size. He just needs experience.” Source
- Neal Livingston, Tend The Farm: “I see him as a Hartikainen 2.0. If you were concerned about Hartikainen’s foot speed, Khaira has no problems. He’s a quick skater, he’s very fast and good on faceoffs.”
I have Khaira at No. 7 despite clear question marks about him offensively. His OKC Barons numbers this fall (13GP, 1-2-3) reflect a lack of offense, although his estimated time-on-ice (via Eric Rodgers at Tend The Farm) is about 12 minutes a game. All of his points have come at even strength, so we can estimate his AHL 5×5 points-per-60 is about 1.15-1.50 (depending on special teams TOI). If he can develop even a little offensively, this could be a contributing player over the next decade.
2012 NHL DRAFT
- Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. Young Russian winger has been a disappointment so far in his career, but possesses tremendous talent and is making progress. He’s one of the most naturally talented players in the organization. Graduated to the NHL.
- Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Big winger with some skill just turned pro. Not playing a lot so far. Inside the Top 20.
- Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. If he can improve his speed, he’ll have a career. If he can improve his offense, he’ll have a long one. No. 7 overall prospect.
- Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Big Russian winger has been lost in the hinterlands back home. Outside the Top 20.
- Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. No longer in the organization.
- Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized but splendid puck-moving defender. Candidate for winter 20.
- John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Big winger playing his final college season. Candidate for winter 20.