One of the stories that ran out of sequence this summer was Jujhar Khaira’s signing. It makes a difference, because there’s an increased chance that the young, developing Khaira will be placed in a league that is beyond him, and he’s still a developing player. If he’s overwhelmed in the AHL, he might end up in the ECHL. Is that a good place for him? And if he ends up in the WHL, he might end up with Kevin Constantine as coach. Is that a good place for him?
I’m on record saying that if a player is clearly ready for the next level, then bring it on. I know many who read this blog don’t feel that way, but the bottom line here is that the Oilers have turned many 1st rounders pro before the two year junior window closes. That list would include Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov–elite skill players considered to be at or near the top of their draft year.
Jujhar Khaira isn’t a lottery pick, and he isn’t a first round selection. He’s a 3rd round selection and he had a fine WCHA debut with Michigan Tech. I get that things are changing for Michigan Tech (quality of opponent issue in their new situation) and I get that Khaira feels playing more games is a good idea. Totally makes sense.
However, he just turned 19 last week. He’s barely older than Marco Roy and Ben Betker, two of the kids Edmonton drafted this summer. I’m concerned that the player requested the signing and that the organization will make the wrong decision on him this fall, to the point of allowing him to play pro before he’s ready. 19, one good WCHA season.
Is there any real evidence he’s ready for the AHL? Would the struggles of Pitlick, Hamilton and Martindale server as a cautionary tale? I think this might be too soon. I really like Khaira as a prospect (#6 prospect in the summer 30) but this next move is really important.