The Oilers signing of Jujhar Khaira yesterday came as a surprise, and now the question is where will he play next season. Despite his relative youth, Khaira is one of the bigger prospects in the system (now 6.03, 214) and offers the Oilers a center-wing with a wide range of skills. Those skills include scoring ability, taking and making a pass, and playing with an edge.
If he can do those three things successfully at the AHL level, Khaira will move to the front of the pro prospects list in a quick hurry. In his first 7 games at Michigan Tech, Khaira was 0-3-3. After that, he went 30, 6-16-22.
REDLINE REPORT 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.
MICHIGAN TECH COACHING COMMENTS
- Heach Coach Mel Pearson: “I told our coaches before the weekend (November late) 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.”
In the 2012 winter edition of the top 20 I ranked Khaira #7 overall, and said “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.” I had him #6 overall in the summer.
The Van Diest article above is worth reading, lots of great quotes including this from Khaira: “I think I could be a big asset in the offensive zone, holding guys off behind the zone and be a good two-way forward.”
Clearly the Oilers agree.
Where will he play? My guess is he’ll be an Oklahoma City Baron, although I do remember Khaira saying he’d be willing to go to junior hockey if asked, and maybe the Oilers made the request this year. One thing for sure: this signing addresses toughness and size, and for that reason I believe OKC is the likely destination.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, the Lowdown hits the air on Team 1260 with a very nice guest list. Scheduled to appear:
- Ryan Batty from Copper and Blue. We’ll talk about Khaira, where he’ll play next season and expectations for him.
- Terry Jones from the Edmonton Sun. We’ll talk about Gretzky’s trade, the Eskimos and more.
- Damon Allen, legendary QB who led the Eskimos to two Grey Cups. We’ll talk about his career, what he’s doing now and the stte of the Eskimos.
Your comments are welcome, if you have anything you’d like to ask Damon this is your chance. @Lowetide_ on twitter or 10-1260 via text. Man, I’m looking forward to it!