#7 PROSPECT (winter 2012): JUJHAR KHAIRA

In placing Jujhar Khaira among the Oilers top 10 prospects, I’ve relied heavily on small sample sizes, anecdotal evidence and words from his coach. Secondary arrows include Khaira’s skill set and position being a perfect match for the Oilers depth chart.

Summer 2012: #15

Winter 2012: #7

Pre-Draft

  • Redline Report: At Red Line, 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.
  • Prince George Spruce Kings GM Mike Hawes: “He’s a prototypical power forward, with more offensive up-side than most. He’s got a strong, powerful stride and also sees the ice extremely well.”
  • Ben Berland: Khaira was now 6’2”, and a runaway freight train.  His real strength is on the fore check, in which he uses both his size and his skating ability to the max.  Although he doesn’t possess incredible foot speed, his read and react skills are excellent, which can be an exceptional hockey skill to have (easier to teach foot speed than read and react particularly with older players). Wide track skater that reminds me of Kent Nilsson (for all you old timers out there), or Milan Lucic. Has good stickhandling skills and prefers to play the role of playmaker more than shooter.  Shooting is excellent, and will shoot when needed, but prefers the pass.
  • The Scouting Report: Khaira was a standout in the BCHL this season, tallying 29 goals and 79 points in only 54 games as a sophomore. The powerful winger is an effective offensive player who can be difficult to get off the puck and creates a lot of his offense in this regard. Khaira is a very good playmaker and could probably stand to shoot the puck more, which is something he’ll hopefully improve on as he embarks on a collegiate career at Michigan Tech. Of note, Khaira’s WHL rights were recently traded to Everett, but it seems like Khaira is still intent on fulfilling his NCAA commitment.
  • BCJHL Website:  Jujhar Khaira (pron: Juh_Jar Care_ah) of the Prince George Spruce Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) placed top ten in four of the physical tests at the NHL Combine in advance of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. With the seventh largest wing span measurement of 77.75 inches, Khaira also showed his strength in the bench press finishing fifth with 12 reps of 150 lbs and also eighth for strength lifting 9.1 lb/lb of body weight a full 4 points above the Combine average. In the test of upper body power, Khaira was fourth throwing a 4 kg ball 232 inches.

2012-13

He’s 6.03, 195, playing center, has some bite in his game and took about two weeks to move all the way up the depth chart at Michigan Tech. Although it isn’t a school famous for turning out NHL stars, the young man has been impressive in his first 10 games at the school (2-6-8, 23pims). He is currently third in team scoring, and clearly getting a lot of playing time. I don’t know that anyone predicted this sort of thing happening so quickly.

Khaira’s last three games have been outstanding:

  • 2-3-5, -1
  • 9 shots on goal
  • Increased time against good opposition
  • Moving up to the top line

All that and quoting Redline he’s big, mean, aggressive nasty and….can score.

The storyline for Khaira’s move up the list begins with the words of his coach at Michigan Tech:

  • Heach Coach Mel Pearson: “I told our coaches before the weekend I thought JJ (Jujhar) made huge strides in how much better he was. He’s at a different level right now. We’re playing sophomores and freshmen against other team’s seniors, grizzled vets, and they’re doing a great job.”
  • Bill Muckalt, Michigan Tech asst coach: “We see him as a big time power forward. He skates really well, very good down low, strong on the puck, has good vision and great offensive instincts. I think he has a lot of potential to be a pro hockey player.”
  • Khaira enjoyed a breakout weekend and received WCHA Rookie of the week honors for it November 20.
Khaira’s style of play and the fact that he’s moved up so quickly at an early stage (Khaira is 18, won’t turn 19 until mid-August) suggests the Oilers might have uncovered a gem in the hinterland. Much like Martin Gernat  a year ago, Khaira moves up the top 20 six months after being drafted due to strong performance and glowing reports from onlookers.
We didn’t know much about Jujhar Khaira on draft day. Since then, the story that has been uncovered is impressive. Power forward, good hands, mean streak, tough as nails and doesn’t possess a sense of entitlement. Those are all good arrows, and his performance last weekend suggests more good things are on the way.

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36 Responses to "#7 PROSPECT (winter 2012): JUJHAR KHAIRA"

  1. Chris Hext---formerly EasyOil--- says:

    Wow! Didn’t expect him at No.7, but by all accounts it’s pretty well deserved, although I expect the fact that some of the more heralded prospects (Lander, Paajarvi, Pitlick, Hamilton, Rieder) are having poor or unremarkable seasons has something to do with it. It would be fantastic if this kid turns out, although it’ll be a good few years until we know that.

    Probably too early to tell I know LT, but what do you reckon his career path is? One more year of college after this followed by 2-3 years in the minors?

  2. blackdog says:

    Wow there’s a big jump. Great arrows though.

    He already has the pro hockey interview patter right on so one less thing to worry about.

    My wife says he needs to go to someone about those eyebrows, looks like he has three stashes going on and the ones up top are way ahead.

  3. nelson88 says:

    blackdog,

    Beat me to it. Too bad Jar Jar is such a great handle as Bert would also be very fitting. Loved this pick from day one. Lots of physical tools in a hard working and seemingly grounded young man gives him an excellent change of reaching his considerable upside. I cheer for all Oiler picks but I’m glad to see LT has him ranked above “the Russian who aims to be better than Yak”. Would love to see Zharko get there but appears to be much ado about nothing.

  4. gd says:

    Great pick LT,

    Also he is playing Centre and took the majority of his team’s faceoffs last weekend.

    I love the Khaira draft pick as to me it represents the right “risk-reward” type of pick at 62, as oppose to the Moroz pick at 32 when there were first round talent still available. If he turns into a 6-3 third line centre that is a home run at 62, and if he turns out to be an engineer working at Suncor that’s as good for the Oilers as him turning into a career AHLer.

    I didn’t know about him scoring in the top 10 in all of those tests at the combine, so that also is very encouraging.

  5. M Parkatti says:

    I’d like to be the first to suggest a nickname of Judge Khredd. That is all.

  6. spoiler says:

    Ha! Called it.

    The only concern here is sample size, which is terrifyingly small. The coaches’ decision to give him top 6 minutes at such a young age and level of experience indicates that we should have faith in that miniature sample.

    Hard to say right now if he projects into the NHL, but the younger one can make things happen, the likelier one can pull it off.

    As for the whinging about the draft, I think the Oil decided to take 3 shots at power forward and just took the players where they knew they would still be available. In all likelihood, they had Zharkov ahead of Moroz on their list, but knew they couldn’t take them in that order and get them both. If one of these three pans out, I will be happy with the strategy. Heck, Moroz might get ranked ahead of Zhark on this list.

  7. Protagonist says:

    Not sure if this has been posted yet, but Klefbom underwent season ending surgery: http://i.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=410371

    I like the guy as much as anyone but I think we have to start adjusting our timelines at the very least with Oscar. It’s pretty clear that he either won’t be healthy enough to play in the next few years or will have his development significantly slowed by the lost years of progress. I don’t know how he’s ahead of Marincin for example, and is probably falling down into the Gernat category WRT expected time of arrival. And unfortunately, now I think it’s safe to add, “if he arrives at all.”

    [Edit] First post, yadda yadda, love the blog, yadda yadda, been reading for years, yadda yadda[/edit]

  8. OilClog says:

    Doesn’t hurt where he comes from and the potential of seeing him inflick endless amounts of terror in Canuck land.

    If by chance he does turn into a player, Hall and Judge Khredd steaming rolling their way across the blue line is going to be a blast to watch.

  9. Ducey says:

    Maybe Ryan Murray was destined to be an Oiler;

    He has to undergo season ending shoulder surgery

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=410370

  10. gcw_rocks says:

    Wow, that is a major indictment of the other guys. BOOM, listen to the rest crashing around us…

  11. Oilanderp says:

    Other former #7s in these rankings include?

  12. dessert1111 says:

    Chris Hext—formerly EasyOil—:

    Probably too early to tell I know LT, but what do you reckon his career path is?One more year of college after this followed by 2-3 years in the minors?

    He seems like the type to want to finish his degree, though I suppose he could always go back to it. If he keeps developing at this rate though it’ll be hard to keep him in NCAA for more than another year or two, I would imagine. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — if he’s “very raw defensively” and playing C, he still has a ways to go. But yes, if everything works out, a perfect 2/3 C for the Oil.

  13. Melman says:

    I think i just peed a little after reading his prospect report

  14. justDOit says:

    I hope the college – UFA loophole is closed in this CBA. Live by the sword…

  15. VOR says:

    Protagonist,

    What in the link you attached leads you to believe the surgery will have any long term effect on Klefblom’s career?

  16. rickithebear says:

    In BCHL a .19NHL EQ.
    54GM 29G 50A 1.463PPG
    Auguat Birth
    .19BCHL/.29CHL =.655
    1.463 X.655 = .96PPG CHL
    August 18 YR NHLE @22 curves says .75% of PPG
    .96 X .75 = .72PPG
    In the draft i wanted him or bozon in the 2nd rd.
    Moroz spot.
    I do this every year for the top 100 Forwards pre draft.

    Moves up to a .45NHL EQ league
    When he got his points and with who is very telling.

    http://www.michigantechhuskies.com/sports/mice/2012-13/players/jujharkhaira7hzq?view=gamelog

    http://www.michigantechhuskies.com/sports/mice/2012-13/teams/michigantech?sort=p&view=lineup&pos=sk&r=0
    game misconduct 8 min in to game
    Game one OCT 11 was a write off.

    He played with: A. Petan, D.johnstone, B. Pietila in GM 2, 3, 8,9,10
    5GM 2G 5A 7P 1.4PPG +1 9Sh last 3 G

    He played with Furme, Gould, Gordic in GM 4,5,6,7
    4GM 0G 1A 1P .25PPG -1 3SH

    D. Johnstone
    with Jujhar
    5GM 1G 7A 8P 1.6PPG +1 12SH
    without
    5GM 0G 0A 0P -4 14SH

    A. Petan
    with Jujhar
    5GM 4G 4A 8P 1.6PPG +2 14SH
    without
    5GM 0G 2A 2P .4PPG -2 9SH

    Hope they will roll the productive line all year

    Jujhar is exceeding his NCAA draft peers
    Except 5’9″Barber @ Miami (1.25)
    most 1-3rd draft NCAA 18 are .5PPG

    Elite 18 Yr production in NCAA. ( ivy ignored)
    11-12
    Gaudreau;5’8″ 1.00ppg
    Peca 5’9″ 1.00
    10-11
    Schwartz 5’10″ 1.57
    T.J. Tynan 5’9″ 1.23
    Zucker 5’11″ 1.13
    09-10
    Pirri 6’0″ 1.10
    D’Amigo 5’11″ .97
    08-09
    Schroeder 5’8″ 1.29
    Stepan 6’0″ .83
    07-08
    JVR 6’3″ 1.10
    Palushaj 6’0″ 1.01
    Turris 6’1″ .97
    C. Wilson 6’1″ .95
    06-07
    Toews 6’2″ 1.35
    Okposo 6’1″ 1.00
    Galliardi 6’2″ .94
    Rakhshani 5’10″.90
    Sweat 6’0″ .87
    05-06
    Kessel 6’0″ 1.31
    Cogliano 5’10″ .72
    .
    If he is 1.3PPG the rest of the season.
    Schwartz (1.57)
    Schroeder (1.29)
    Toews (1.35)
    Kessel (1.31)
    Jesus.

    Comparisson to your peers in the same league is important.

  17. blackgold says:

    Rickibear,

    Thanks for those numbers and context, very encouraging.

    This guy is my fav from the draft (other than Nail), everything I’ve heard about him just makes me root for him, not to mention he could be exactly what we need.

    Judge Khredd is good, I prefer Jarhead though. Semper fi and all that. Kind of meta.

  18. Protagonist says:

    VOR:
    Protagonist,

    What in the link you attached leads you to believe the surgery will have any long term effect on Klefblom’s career?

    Nothing specific. But there is now a clear history of injuries. So it’s not so much the specific injury this time and more the fact that he’s starting to build up a list of serious injuries in addition to losing significant development time. Basically, if he was 25 and playing in the NHL and lost a season it’s a problem but not a huge deal, but he’s much younger in his formative years and he’s losing a years worth of seasoning and experience that will be vital later in his career.

  19. Traktor says:

    Interesting to see him shoot up the rankings. A lot of people had him written off as another coke machine bust on draft day just because he was 6’2.

  20. godot10 says:

    justDOit:
    I hope the college – UFA loophole is closed in this CBA. Live by the sword…

    It is NOT a loophole. You have rights to a CHL player for 2 years. You have rights to a US college player for 4 years or until he finishes college. Why would you penalize a US college player even more?

  21. Truth says:

    rickithebear,

    I see Jesus must have scored 1.3 PPG or better in the NCAA as an 18 year old, but you neglected to show the actual number?

    I’d probably still take Toews.

  22. DeadmanWaking says:

    godot10: It is NOT a loophole.You have rights to a CHL player for 2 years.You have rights to a US college player for 4 years or until he finishes college.Why would you penalize a US college player even more?

    I hate to tell you this, Godot, but everything Bettman hates is officially a loophole if you’re mouth-breathing the party line. The athletes should be paying the league to enjoy all that great publicity and free hockey tape. The league is acting on power, not principle. The legal remarks they made concerning decertification as “flipping a light switch” reveals that they wish to regard the legislation creating a loophole in freedom to contract (in allowing a player’s association to collectively give up this right) as a charter rather than a dispensation.

    I have a strong sense that this attitude would explode in their face at the level of the supreme court. Judges on the right are rabid about freedom to contract. Judges on the left take collective autonomy very seriously. In both cases, deeper principles are at stake that both sides of the court are disposed to take more seriously than the baseline political pressure to facilitate business as usual. Business as usual has long fascinated me. It’s like the application of trademark law to last year’s P&L statement. “But your honour, enforcing the law would disrupt the orderly and virtuous growth of profits. The gods of free enterprise will become very angry and shutter all the factories in an instant.” Losing at the supreme court level would amount to nuclear winter concerning how the league likes to portray their “charter” under the law. It’s a long and ugly and acrimonious road that this even becomes possible (seven to ten years is my rough guess). Long enough for the league ownership to see the (oncoming) light at the end of the tunnel and grow a conciliatory streak a mile wide. No, I view the NHLPA as the player’s ball, and more power to them if find themselves resorting to the credible threat to take it away if the league allows principled bargaining to disappear between the sofa cushions. Yes, I’m recapitulating. Am I getting tedious yet?

    Bruce has a nice article today at NHL Lockout: How would a season-long lockout affect the attrition rate of NHL careers?. I would have expanded one point.

    Most years there are about 20-25 such players who only get the one shot, and many of those for just a handful of games.

    Yes, but this is the discarded residue of a slightly larger group of fringe prospects, where in an ordinary season a small number manage by some combination of luck and hustle and good management to stick around for a season or three.

    There are maybe five guys out there who could have amounted to a role player for two or three seasons who never even tasted a cup of coffee because of the previous lock-out. That’s a bum rap if I’ve ever seen one. Do these guys even have a vote in the NHLPA? Perversely, the NHLPA has a stronger bargaining position if they don’t.

  23. jonrmcleod says:

    So…

    Schultz is leading the AHL in points. Rajala was leading the ECHL in goals. LaLeggia was recently leading NCAA defencemen in scoring. Yakupov is tearing up the KHL. And Klefbom was leading the SEL in +/-. Now the Oilers’ CHL guys need to get going.

  24. rickithebear says:

    Truth:

    Jesus.The youngest of the sons of god.
    Had an affinity for wooden sticks.

    Though he was that brother who needed attention.

  25. jp says:

    rickithebear,

    I hear he had “poise” and decent leadership ability, but was his shooting% sustainable?

  26. Bank Shot says:

    I have high hopes for Eugene Levy to crack the Oilers squad in the next 3-4 years.

    Hopefully he can build on his fast start in the NCAA. Does Levy’s squad play against the top NCAA teams like Boston?

    Riley Nash as everyone knows put up good numbers, but in a lesser division which is something we need to watch out for IMO.

  27. BlacqueJacque says:

    So Ryan Murray’s shoulder injury is apparently a season-ender. Sucks to be him, sucks for Team Canada, and gawd damn Columbus just can’t get a break.

  28. Matt.N says:

    Bank Shot,

    Winner.

    I won’t ever be able to look at this kid and not think of Stan Schmenge and his accordian.

  29. jp says:

    Bank Shot,

    From everything I’ve heard the WCHA (where Levy plays) is the best US college league. That appears to be backed up by this: http://collegehockeyinc.com/in-the-nhl

    There’s a link in there to current NHLers who played US college hockey. About 300 in total. All but a handful came from one of the main 4 leagues, with the WCHA contributing about 1/3 of the total.

    Here’s the breakdown:
    CCHA: 86/297=29.0%
    ECAC: 47/297=15.8%
    HEA: 63/297=21.2%
    WCHA: 101/297=34.0%

    Nash played in the worst of the leagues (ECAC), and put up decent but not spectacular numbers (best season 30GP 12-23-35). Levy’s in a better spot, and his production thus far is probably equivalent to what Nash peaked at.

  30. justDOit says:

    godot10,

    Didn’t Schultz become UFA because he quit college early? Don’t you think that is unfair to the team that drafted him? Say what you want to about player’s rights, but they are all just pieces of meat at the prospect stage, and they should consider themselves lucky to just be drafted by an NHL team.

    If the Schultz maneuver becomes more popular, teams will eventually shy away from taking a chance on drafting them, similar to how teams view Russian junior players – which will then hurt their chances of even getting a shot in the bigs.

    All I’m saying, is JK could well follow the same path as Schultz, and then he’ll no longer be an Oiler prospect.

  31. godot10 says:

    justDOit:
    godot10,

    Didn’t Schultz become UFA because he quit college early? Don’t you think that is unfair to the team that drafted him? Say what you want to about player’s rights, but they are all just pieces of meat at the prospect stage, and they should consider themselves lucky to just be drafted by an NHL team.

    If the Schultz maneuver becomes more popular, teams will eventually shy away from taking a chance on drafting them, similar to how teams view Russian junior players – which will then hurt their chances of even getting a shot in the bigs.

    All I’m saying, is JK could well follow the same path as Schultz, and then he’ll no longer be an Oiler prospect.

    Nope…he became a free agent because his 4 years were up. The non-loophole “loophole” is that if one leaves after four years without finishing college, one becomes a free agent on July 1st instead of August 15, if I remember correctly.

    Schultz played an extra year in the BC Tier II junior, and a lot of US born players are spending an extra year in the US junior league before going to college, which is why rights are expiring after their junior year (if they choose to leave college). If they choose to stay in college, the NHL team gets a 5th year of retaining their rights.

    The intent when the CBA was signed, was 2 years of rights for CHL draftees, and 4 years of rights for players who went the US college route. Schultz did his four years of time. There was no loophole.

    The “problem” is that after four years, many college players, like Schultz are too old to be forced to renter the draft, so the team that drafted them initially loses the leverage they have on CHL players after two years, who if they don’t sign in two years are still draft eligible.

    Schultz did nothing wrong or underhanded. The Ducks had 4 years to sign him. They didn’t. Schulz was too old to be draft eligible, hence he became a free agent.

  32. godot10 says:

    justDOit:
    godot10,

    Didn’t Schultz become UFA because he quit college early? Don’t you think that is unfair to the team that drafted him? Say what you want to about player’s rights, but they are all just pieces of meat at the prospect stage, and they should consider themselves lucky to just be drafted by an NHL team.

    If the Schultz maneuver becomes more popular, teams will eventually shy away from taking a chance on drafting them, similar to how teams view Russian junior players – which will then hurt their chances of even getting a shot in the bigs.

    All I’m saying, is JK could well follow the same path as Schultz, and then he’ll no longer be an Oiler prospect.

    Riley Nash essentially was intending to do the same thing to the Oilers after graduating, and he didn’t spend the extra year in BC Tier II. He was going to spend his 4 years in college and graduate, and wait till August 15th and become a UFA. Nash wanted no part of the Oilers organization. I think this is why Prendergast was promoted out of his job, because he didn’t do his due diligence on Nash to discover whether he was willing to play for the Oilers. If a player wants to wait a team out, the CBA gives them that right. They are not indentured slaves forever.

    A CHL player can do the same thing (as Schultz did), but he has to go through the draft twice and not sign with either of the two teams that drafted him for 4 years.

  33. Dipstick says:

    godot10,

    We have to remember that the NCAA rules prohibit any player from signing a professional deal while in school. Unlike CHL players who can sign and slide immediately after the draft, NCAA players are kind of in no man’s land until they leave school.

  34. Bank Shot says:

    jp,

    Thanks JP! tremendously useful info.

  35. Rocknrolla says:

    M Parkatti,

    Love it. Was thinking like the Nuge, the Judge….but like that one!

  36. CrazyCoach says:

    Tambo and Co. will need to spend some resources to keep tabs on Judge Khredd over the next few years and help out anyway they can under NCAA guidelines.

    If it was up to me, I wold offer the kid a playing contract during the playoffs of his senior year and ask him to review it and let him know that the minute he is finished his final game, the offer is still open and they would love him to sign.

    I kind of saw this kid grow up both literally and figuratively in front of my eyes. The arrows are definitely pointing in the right direction and his improvement curve shows no signs of flattening out just yet.

    Would love to be able to actually watch him play again.

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