OILERS NO. 12 PROSPECT: JUJHAR KHAIRA

When the Edmonton Oilers drafted Jujhar Khaira, they were on the ‘draft for need’ plan and had just chosen Mitchell Moroz in the previous round. They were (and are) looking for big men who can also play the hockey. It sounds pretty damned easy, but there are very few of them available to the 30 NHL teams in any season. The number of true power forwards in the NHL, who can score at a rate we would associate with real offensive talent, is very low. Teams likes the Oilers have passed on great talent in the chase, and I believe it is folly to do so.

PREVIOUSLY NUMBER TWELVE ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2004: L Brad Winchester (390) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2005: C Kyle Brodziak (567) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2006: L Dragan Umicevic (0) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2007: D Alex Plante (10) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2008: G Jeff Deslauriers (62) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2009: G Devan Dubnyk (254) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2010: D Jeff Petry (342) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
  • December 2011: G Olivier Roy (0) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
  • December 2012: L Mitchell Moroz (0) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
  • December 2013: C Mark Arcobello (126) (FA, signed during Tambellini era)
  • December 2014: R Jackson Houcke (0) (GM: Craig MacTavish)

It’s funny, that Brad Winchester pick in 2000 was pretty much the same as the Moroz and Khaira picks in 2012, Oilers looking for that elusive big man who could play with skill. When that player does arrive, we will count up all of the picks inside the top 100 that were an attempt to get him. I count a baker’s dozen in the first decade of this century alone.

khaira

WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • Red Line Report: 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.

khaira ferguson 1

PREVIOUS RANKINGS

  • Summer 2012: 15
  • Winter 2012: 7
  • Summer 2013: 6
  • Winter 2013: 5
  • Summer 2014: 10
  • Winter 2014: 7
  • Summer 2015: 18
  • Winter 2015: 12

 

  • 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
  • Lowetide, April 2015: Another big man, the sense I got out of training camp is that Khaira (and Bogdan Yakimov) had stepped ahead of some others in the organization based on management’s estimation. Khaira didn’t deliver much offense in OKC (51GP, 4-6-10) and his boxcars are a comparable for Moroz and Travis Ewanyk—the job Khaira will be applying for in the NHL (should be make it) will need a far better bat than the one he’s showing so far in his pro career. Source

2015-16

Entering this season, the big question for me about Khaira had to do with the offense. Before his recall, there were signs of progress:

  • Jujhar Khaira 2014-15 AHL: 51GP 4-6-10 .196 points-per-game
  • Jujhar Khaira 2015-16 AHL: 16GP, 3-3-6 .375 points-per-game

That may not appear to be a monster step, but we don’t have TOI totals and we are talking about a complementary offensive player who will bring some other elements to the game. If you see Khaira as a future 30-point NHL player, does that give him enough value to project him onto the roster as a full-time contributor? His NHLE this season (using the Vollman) is 82GP, 9-10-19 and this is his second year pro. There are going to be more talented big men available to Edmonton via free agency, but he has some offensive ability and seems a more attractive package than Bogdan Yakimov (more speed) and Iiro Pakarinen (more physical) who are/will be applying for the same jobs. Seems to me he has a chance here.

  • Lowetide: No one questions his size or edge, but the offense has always been on the down low. At 2.03/60 estimate, we may be seeing an emerging prospect. Definite bottom six F I’d guess, you know the Habs always found a way for these guys to score enough goals. Wish we knew their secret. 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.”

  • Joanne Ireland, Edmonton Journal: Khaira’s parents, Sukhjinder and Komal, were at Rexall Place on Wednesday to take in his game against the Boston Bruins. It was their first chance to sit in the stands and watch him play in two years. It was also Komal’s first NHL game. She had always said if she went to an NHL game, she’d go when he was playing. Source
  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey: Had some nice moments in the first period especially, when his line was heading north. Had 4 shot attempts, 2 on goal, banged hard along the walls (though 0 official hits), had a staredown with one Bruin, and also displayed some nice confidence with a lovely diagonal backhand pass out of his own end which powered a good line rush. Source
  • Darcy McLeod, Cult of Hockey: A large man who doesn’t stop until he gets the puck, he also shows an ability to pass it well to others who will create scoring chances from his board work, including a great sequence along the end wall that led almost directly to the Eberle goal. A welcome addition to a RNH-Eberle line that sometimes struggles to come out of the corner with the puck.  Was on his toes all night and skated miles. Source
  • Jonathan Willis, Cult of HockeyHe was physical, landing big hits on Vernon Fiddler and Valeri Nichushkin. He contributed to the offence; though he didn’t get a point on the play it was his pass that teed up Hall’s 1-0 goal. He drove the net, fired the puck and generally meshed well with the skill players on the first line. Source

THE FUTURE

The worst time to project a prospect is when he is playing really well over very poorly. Edmonton’s picks outside the first round have not flourished after callups in the recent past, although Brandon Davidson, Tobias Rieder and Anton Slepyshev have recently bucked the trend. Khaira is a big man, he plays with an edge and does appear to play an intelligent game. Honestly, and I hate like hell referring to the Habs in a positive light, but they always found a way for their checkers to score enough to play in the lineup.

One of their tricks involved playing offensively shy forwards with high-end skill types. Jean Beliveau helped John Ferguson with the goals while Ferguson policed the 1960s. Bob Gainey would line up with Jacques Lemaire and Yvan Cournoyer. Maybe that will be Khaira’s role, or the role for a player similar to him. There is going to be room for big, rugged wingers on this Oilers team. Starting now.

 

THE 2012 DRAFT

  • Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. The 2015-16 season is the most encouraging we’ve seen from him since his rookie year. Injured now, he was flourishing with McDavid. Graduated to the NHL.
  • Griffin Reinhart, No. 4 overall. The Oilers always liked his size and defensive acumen. Fighting for an NHL job this season, has a future in the league but there are a wide range of views on what that future might look like. No. 5 prospect, Winter 2015. (acquired summer 2015).
  • Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Finally getting some AHL time and showing a pulse. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
  • Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. Stepped up offensively in his second AHL season, playing so well he received his first NHL callup. Has played very well in early games, earning substantial minutes on a skill line. No. 12 prospect, Winter 2015. 
  • Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Injured during a tryout with the AHL team. Not officially in the organization.
  • Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. Signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and is productive as a member of their team. Of course. No longer in the organization.
  • Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized puck mover turned pro and is finding his way in the AHL. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
  • John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Didn’t sign after college, now in the ECHL. No longer part of the organization.

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35 Responses to "OILERS NO. 12 PROSPECT: JUJHAR KHAIRA"

  1. cc says:

    This is ironic, with all the talk of JJ in the previous thread. My two cents is that he reminds me of a poor mans Dwight King (that’s a good thing) – I think that JJ is a little better defensively and he can contribute on PK & Center. If JJ can get roughly .3 Pts/G that should be enough to stick.

  2. frjohnk says:

    cc:
    This is ironic, with all the talk of JJ in the previous thread.My two cents is that he reminds me of a poor mans Dwight King (that’s a good thing) – I think that JJ is a little better defensively and he can contribute on PK & Center.If JJ can get roughly .3 Pts/G that should be enough to stick.

    Ha.
    A few threads ago I suggested Jordan Nolan as a comparable.

    Khaira plays like a King!

  3. judgedrude says:

    Makes me think that we should draft more out of the BCHL

  4. OilClog says:

    this kid is hurdling these fools

    exhaustion will be his biggest battle

  5. dessert1111 says:

    Just out of curiosity, was this ranking set before his call-up, or did you give him a boost for acquitting himself so well?

  6. Lowetide says:

    dessert1111:
    Just out of curiosity, was this ranking set before his call-up, or did you give him a boost for acquitting himself so well?

    Nope. I set the list Nov 5. He had scored four points in eight games, though, so I felt there was an offensive surge. I did not feel he was better than Yakimov or Pakarinen, but if I was prone to moving things around may have plunked him in front. I have never felt that to be useful, difficult enough to rank these fellows in the middle of the year.

  7. Ryan says:

    I’ve said it before, but I have a lot of time for this player entirely because I’ve seen him good. I was surprised actually because my expectations were not high.

    His AHL boxcars are somewhat concerning, but I am confident with my assessment that he has third line skill and fourth line size. He’s also a smart kid. He will get his 100 plus NHL games.

  8. Ryan says:

    cc:
    This is ironic, with all the talk of JJ in the previous thread.My two cents is that he reminds me of a poor mans Dwight King (that’s a good thing) – I think that JJ is a little better defensively and he can contribute on PK & Center.If JJ can get roughly .3 Pts/G that should be enough to stick.

    If you can play center, .3 pts per game is an awfully high threshold to stick on the Oilers. Just ask Lander 🙂

  9. Lowetide says:

    Ryan:
    I’ve said it before, but I have a lot of time for this player entirely because I’ve seen him good.I was surprised actually because my expectations were not high.

    His AHL boxcars are somewhat concerning, but I am confident with my assessment that he has third line skill and fourth line size.He’s also a smart kid.He will get his 100 plus NHL games.

    Well, if I knew he would play this well I would have had him higher. 🙂

  10. Water Fire says:

    Ryan:
    I’ve said it before, but I have a lot of time for this player entirely because I’ve seen him good.I was surprised actually because my expectations were not high.

    His AHL boxcars are somewhat concerning, but I am confident with my assessment that he has third line skill and fourth line size.He’s also a smart kid.He will get his 100 plus NHL games.

    I refer to Vic Ferrari which is out of style now, but so am I 🙂

    He stressed context. And as many of the current people working for teams and blogging learned in IOF’s comment section, he stressed it again. Back me up old schoolers!

    It’s as G keeps looking and re-looking. Good on you G!

    It is really hard to get to the bottom of why something is successful. And once you have a successful analysis of the successful thing, it will change as it’s environment changes.

    Which leads me to distill things down to their core.

    Hockey is probably the most fluid team game in the world because it is speed enhanced and not played on horses. Although that would be interesting.

    The point of my rambling is that because there is so much chaos and line changing and luck involved, simple well done play has massive value. More than it seems it should.

    The fact that Juhjar drove the puck the right way and gave a platform for his mates to make plays -by smarts, skating, size – it doesn’t matter. It’s that he did it and did it in a way that indicated he knew how to do that. He just needs to keep it going enough.

    It’s been said before that some players do better in the NHL because the structure is better. Was Juhjar not an engineering student or the like and his parents preferred the college route? I wish him the best, but also wish the Oilers keep the guys with most long term impact and shit together.

  11. Ryan says:

    Lowetide: Well, if I knew he would play this well I would have had him higher.

    Who needs math and pesky stats when you can just see someone good? :).

    I do like JJ though.

    He is a smart player, has decent hands, big, not glacial in his skating ability, a natural center, displays good board work, and heck only has 95 games to go.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Water Fire: I refer to Vic Ferrari which is out of style now, but so am I :)

    He stressed context. And as many of the current people working for teams and blogging learned in IOF’s comment section, he stressed it again. Back me up old schoolers!

    It’s as G keeps looking and re-looking. Good on you G!

    It is really hard to get to the bottom of why something is successful. And once you have a successful analysis of the successful thing, it will change as it’s environmentchanges.

    Which leads me to distill things down to their core.

    Hockey is probably the most fluid team game in the world because it is speed enhanced and not played on horses. Although that would be interesting.

    The point of my rambling is that because there is so much chaos and line changing and luck involved, simple well done play has massive value. More than it seems it should.

    The fact that Juhjar drove the puck the right way and gave a platform for his mates to make plays -by smarts, skating, size – it doesn’t matter. It’s that he did it and did it in a way that indicated he knew how to do that. He just needs to keep it going enough.

    It’s been said before that some players do better in the NHL because the structure is better. Was Juhjar not an engineering student or the like and his parents preferred the college route? I wish him the best, but also wish the Oilers keep the guys with most long term impact and shit together.

    Great post.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Ryan: Who needs math and pesky stats when you can just see someone good?:).

    I do like JJ though.

    He is a smart player, has decent hands, big, not glacial in his skating ability, a naturalcenter, displays good board work, and heck only has 95 games to go.

    Ha! Well, the problem comes if you overreact. Khaira was very high on my list last December (no. 7) but fell because of a very poor offensive pro debut. Things are looking up a little this season.

  14. Centre of attention says:

    Hearing the cap could be up around 74 million next season via sportsnet.

    Wonder what that means for potential UFAs this summer. Maybe some teams have enough to squeeze them in now.

    Nothings final of course.

  15. striker says:

    2011-12 BCHL
    2012-13 College Hockey
    2013-14 WHL
    2014-15 AHL
    2015-16

    Is there any other young player in the recent past that has played one season in a league and moved on to another league in this manner? Is this an indication of a quick progression on the part of
    the player or bad development by the organization. Common sense would suggest that players would become comfortable in a league after an initial season where they get the lay of the land? Perhaps as impressive as anything is that he is where he is despite these constant moves. Good news is he definitely looks like he can take a pass and make a pass. Biggest concern with Khaira was slow
    feet as I recall but he seems to be keeping up just fine since he was called
    up. Hopefully, he can demonstrate consistency as a bottom 6 player with the ability to
    slide into the top 6 occasionally.

  16. Lowetide says:

    striker:
    2011-12 BCHL
    2012-13 College Hockey
    2013-14 WHL
    2014-15 AHL
    2015-16

    Is there any other young player in the recent past that has played one season in a league and moved on to another league in this manner? Is this an indication of a quick progression on the part of
    the player or bad development by the organization.Common sense would suggest that players wouldbecome comfortable in a league after an initial season where they get the lay of the land? Perhaps as impressive as anything is that he is where he is despite these constant moves.Good news is he definitely looks like he can take a pass and make a pass.Biggest concern with Khaira was slow
    feet as I recall but he seems to be keeping up just fine since he was called
    up.Hopefully, he can demonstrate consistency as a bottom 6 player with the ability to
    slide into the top 6 occasionally.

    Tyler Pitlick.

  17. Woogie63 says:

    Big men that can play a bit perkulating underneath;

    Kessy, Moroz, Slepyshev, Yakimov, Musil, Reinhart

    Big men figuring out at the NHL level;

    Nurse, Davidson, Khaira, Draisaitl, Pakarinen

    Maybe PC has his solution closer to home than we think?

  18. JDï™ says:

    judgedrude: Makes me think that we should draft more out of the BCHL

    If you’re not going to give us a 😉 after that, at least finish that with a /s – mkay?

  19. JDï™ says:

    Centre of attention: Hearing the cap could be up around 74 million next season via sportsnet.

    Elliotte Friedman Verified account
    ‏@FriedgeHNIC

    That would include the inflator and best possible outcome.

  20. rich says:

    Lowetide: Tyler Pitlick.

    Hu?

  21. Lowetide says:

    rich: Hu?

    Quite right.

  22. RexLibris says:

    JDï™: Elliotte Friedman Verified account
    ‏@FriedgeHNIC

    That would include the inflator and best possible outcome.

    An increase from $71 million to $74 million is a raise almost in name only.

    It handcuffs teams looking to deal players with an extra year on their contract and likely makes pending UFAs look more closely at re-signing now rather than hitting the open market the way Ehrhoff did.

    It also makes affordable players on bridge deals and those coming off RFA deals more attractive to teams.

    We could see some pending RFAs moved for inflated contracts that fill a specific roster need or some predatory offer sheets hit the wires this summer.

    The GMs who made good bets and those who hung on to those expiring contracts could do well this summer.

  23. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide: Tyler Pitlick.

    Which makes Khaira’s progress all the more impressive.

    When he moved from Michigan to the WHL I became concerned because of Pitlick’s record. I was glad he was playing more, even if it was under the offensively-offended Kevin Constantine, but worried that he was making too many changes in short order to really get some developmental traction.

  24. RexLibris says:

    If Khaira could learn the delicate art of the goal-mouth tip he could find himself at the start of a very rewarding career.

  25. "Steve Smith" says:

    Lowetide: Quite right.

    He’s our wicket keeper/wide receiver.

  26. Lowetide says:

    “Steve Smith”: He’s our wicket keeper/wide receiver.

    And he takes out the slop bucket.

  27. Tire Fire says:

    “Steve Smith”: He’s our wicket keeper/wide receiver.

    Hu is?

    edit: Hu is.

  28. John Chambers says:

    There are some great recent stories of players who have taken a bizarre route to the NHL:

    Colton Parayko was playing for Fort Mac in the AJHL before playing college hockey in Alaska. He played only a short stint in the AHL before St Louis elevated him to the pros where he’s putting up stats that make it look like he will stick.

    Alex Burrows is a puke with a beautiful wife and family who was a .5 ppg player in the ECHL at age 22 when he finally found his offensive touch, and began ascending through the ranks of pro hockey before finally becoming an NHL regular at age 26, and then ultimately playing on a line with the Sedins. Maybe being a dickhead sealed his fortune as teams always need an agitator, and if you’ve got decent mitts you get to cycle with some of the games best.

    Dustin Penner was playing high school hockey in Southern Manitoba, got cut from Juniors, played Div 2 US College, and just three years later has a Stanley Cup ring and over $20 million dollars from Kevin Lowe.

    It goes to show you never can tell.

  29. JDï™ says:

    John Chambers: and over $20 million dollars from Kevin Lowe.

    Minus taxes, agent fees, carbon fiber sticks and Aunt Jemima pancake mix, he might have cleared $8M from that contract.

    I’d have to double check the gozintas, but I think he’s still ahead of me in that regard.

    Also, I’m going to an ugly sweater party this weekend. Here’s what I’m wearing.

  30. judgedrude says:

    JDï™,

    😉

  31. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    John Chambers,

    And on top of all those changes he also had to fundamentally change his playing style relatively recently.

    He grew up playing high level hockey as a small skilled kid. Didn’t make the WHL because he was too small, as I recall. Late growth spurt and here we are.

    I know his numbers since he was drafted haven’t suggested success, but every time I’ve watched him I’ve been impressed, apparently I’m not the only one. The only time I managed to see him live was during the subway super series, and he was Canada’s best forward that game in my book.

    I’m rooting for him, and I like what he’s brought to the table so far. If he keeps playing like this, with these players, then points will follow.

  32. Water Fire says:

    Lowetide: Great post.

    Thanks

  33. Water Fire says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!:
    John Chambers,

    And on top of all those changes he also had to fundamentally change his playing style relatively recently.

    He grew up playing high level hockey as a small skilled kid.Didn’t make the WHL because he was too small, as I recall.Late growth spurt and here we are.

    I know his numbers since he was drafted haven’t suggested success, but every time I’ve watched him I’ve been impressed, apparently I’m not the only one.The only time I managed to see him live was during the subway super series, and he was Canada’s best forward that game in my book.

    I’m rooting for him, and I like what he’s brought to the table so far.If he keeps playing like this, with these players, then points will follow.

    Do you mean Khaira?

  34. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    Water Fire,

    I do.

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