MAKE IT EVERETT

Joanne Ireland wrote an article yesterday that gives us an excellent timeline on Jujhar Khaira’s summer. You’ll recall Khaira signing somewhat out of the blue during the quiet period in early August–out of time when things usually get done. In Ireland’s article, she details Khaira’s summer: packing just enough for development camp (leaving the rest at Michigan Tech) with the assumption he’d return in the fall.

Long story short, he impressed the Oilers at the development camp so much they signed him to an entry level deal, effectively “fast tracking” his development in either Oklahoma City or Everett. Ireland’s article is excellent as always, recommended reading. One quote I found very interesting:

  • Todd Nelson: “I noticed a drastic change at this development camp. He’s improving every time I see him, and after seeing his brothers, if everything goes as planned, he’s going to fill out nicely.”

Khaira’s stated goal in the article is to play in OKC, but I’m not certain that’s the wise course here. Based on the Oilers own recent history, sending another young forward to the minors may be unwise (Khaira won’t turn 20 until next August, whereas a player like Tyler Pitlick turned 20 soonafter his debut AHL season began). Let’s compare the struggling OKC forwards drafted by the Oilers with Khaira (using NHLE and their final junior/college seasons).

Vollman WHL/WCHA NHLE at age 18/19

  • Curtis Hamilton (age 18 years, 11 months on Oct 1 of his final WHL season) 82, 9-19-28
  • Tyler Pitlick (age 18 years, 11 months on Oct 1 of his WHL season) 82, 10-14-24
  • Jujhar Khaira (age 18 years, 1.5 months on Oct 1 of his NCAA season) 82, 6-17-23

Khaira has a (basically) one year advantage on the two struggling Oklahoma wingers, but he’s also younger and the AHL has men 10 or more years older playing to provide for their family and the one in a million shot at an NHL job. This is no touch football league we’re talking about here and the NHLE’s (this is Vollman’s metric I’m using here) suggests Khaira’s offense isn’t so good we’re talking about a sure thing. I understand he has a wider range of skills (size, plays with an edge) but if you can’t hit above the Mendoza line your career choices eventally come down to a preference for Switzerland or Russia. As a comparison for Khaira, let’s run Pitlick’s two AHL seasons once again using Vollman’s equivalencies.

Vollman AHL to NHLE for Tyler Pitlick

  • Age 20: 82, 5-11-16
  • Age 21: 82, 3-7-10

Khaira is a year younger than Pitlick, and that development year should mean his bell curve sends him to the farther reaches compared to Pitlick. Still, sitting on a bench and in the pressbox at 19 is a bewildering development decision, and Todd Nelson is the same coach who had Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton. His words above suggest he’s impressed with the young man’s development, but there’s a wide gap between development camp impressions and making out the lineup card in Oklahoma City.

I remain concerned about the Oilers placement decision in Khaira’s very important 19-year old season. Make it Everett.

There’s a terrific story up at Oilers Nation by Kevin McCartney giving an independent view of the Flames-Oilers young stars game the other night. Here’s what he said about Khaira’s night:

  • McCartney: Khaira was one of the few Oilers who was generating offence from down low. He drove the net, banged bodies to win pucks, and generally caused havoc for the Calgary defenders. It was obvious he’s a prospect of interest. He did, however, over-pursue the puck at times and was left stranded on plays in which Calgary was able to move the puck off their end wall. He may be used to hockey in which his physical skills are superior to those around him, or perhaps his college team played an offensive system in which the centre went low. In either case, his defensive coverage in transition was non-existent. Once the Flames had their half-court established, Khaira continued to over-pursue all the way to the side boards.

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40 Responses to "MAKE IT EVERETT"

  1. Woodguy says:

    BUT IF YOU FAST TRACK JUJUKAR IT WILL BE DIFFERENT!!!

  2. Woodguy says:

    I like this kid a lot.

    I hope they do what’s right.

    I have no idea what’s right.

  3. Woodguy says:

    Also, VOR mentioned the 1984 draft last thread and I went poking around.

    I had no idea that this happened.

    End of the 2nd round, the Oilers take a goalie, Darryl Reagh from Kamloops at 42.

    Next goalie off the board is taken at 51. Skinny kid from the Granby Bisons in the Q. MTL takes Patrick Roy.

    Looking back at drafts everyone is an expert and would have done it perfectly, and are always wrong, but that’s a ooof moment given how close the two goalies were taken.

  4. Lowetide says:

    I don’t think Roy’s team played in Cancun that season.

  5. theres oil in virginia says:

    I don’t remember where I saw/read this, but Kevin Lowe was talking about taking a young core group and basically tossing them into the deep end to make them learn to swim faster. I think he even referred to his own experiences as the model for it in the early 80s. I don’t remember if he used the pool analogy or some other, but the point was the same. Get the young guys together, push them further up the development path than they belong and watch them take huge development steps in a short period of time. Well, that’s one possible outcome. I think we’ve recently witnessed (over and over again) the other possible outcome.

    There is something to this thinking, though. I recall playing baseball as a kid, and one year there weren’t enough of us in my age group, so they moved us up to the next age group (groups of two years each). We struggled, of course, but we did get better. When we came back the next year to the lower age group, we were far better than the competition. However, I think situationally, we were prepared to handle the whole experience. We were all pretty athletic and pretty mature too, ie not the types to quit when things weren’t going well. Also, my dad was the coach and he was very fatherly toward the other few players who moved up with me.

    My point here is that one size does not fit all (try to get that message through to Washington DC or Ottawa!) Just because it worked for one group, doesn’t mean it will work for all. You’ve got to be able to cater development to the individual player, at least to some degree. The Oilers have not been good at that lately (ever?).

  6. commonfan14 says:

    Anyone know if these games can be watched via AppleTV?

  7. justDOit says:

    I really enjoyed Kevin’s analysis of that first game – here’s hoping for more on the coming games.

  8. justDOit says:

    Woodguy:

    …End of the 2nd round, the Oilers take a goalie, Darryl Reagh from Kamloops at 42.

    Next goalie off the board is taken at 51.Skinny kid from the Granby Bisons in the Q.MTL takes Patrick Roy…

    How close was hockey history to being rewritten, and with more than a little twist. Flames win their first cup in ’86 (*spits*), and Sather buries that ‘industrial league goalie with oversized pads’ (Sather’s exact words regarding Roy, later on) in the minor leagues, until he includes his rights in the Coffey trade to Pittsburg.

  9. Mr DeBakey says:

    Woodguy: I have no idea what’s right.

    But we do know what is wrong.

    Is there an example of where not throwing a guy into the deep end hurt his development?
    One?

  10. speeds says:

    If Khaira has a strong camp, I think there’s a good argument to send him to the AHL, at least initially. What’s the downside in giving him 5-10 AHL games to see how he looks? If he doesn’t look ready, either at camp or afterwards in his initial AHL stint, by all means, send him back to the WHL.

    My understanding is that, once EDM sends him to the WHL, they can’t recall him to the AHL if they so desire, but that they can send him to the WHL after initially placing him in the AHL. So, provided he looks ready, or ready enough for a few trial games at the pro level, let him take a look at that level of competition. Even if he doesn’t stick around for the whole year, it might give him an opportunity to see first-hand which areas of his game need to improve along the way to the NHL.

  11. Hammers says:

    What we don’y know is if a deal was made so he can start in okl .We must also remember that age isn’t allways a deciding factor ,See Yak , RNH ,Hall plus others over the years that went straight to the NHL at 18 ,obviously superior players but they handled it .If Kharia was Swedish he would be playing with men . I trust McT & co. to make the right decision .

  12. Lowetide says:

    speeds: Overall agreed, but in the case of this player and (especially) this organization, I’d want to be very sure. Keeping this guy healthy and going in the right direction is vital after what we saw with Hamilton, Pitlick etc. Can’t afford another flush of 2nd/3rd rounders–especially forwards.

  13. G Money says:

    theres oil in virginia: Kevin Lowe was talking about taking a young core group and basically tossing them into the deep end to make them learn to swim faster.

    Just because it worked for one group, doesn’t mean it will work for all. You’ve got to be able to cater development to the individual player, at least to some degree.

    I’d go a step farther than that, and say that that model Lowe is talking about is just plain wrong.

    1 – They had a generational talent in Gretzky who was so much better than everyone else that it allowed the group to be tossed in the deep end without drowning. Toss them in the deep end without a Gretzky and they drown – as we’ve seen over and over since then.

    2 – It’s a different era. Back then, you showed up to training camp and used that to work off the summer beer gut (and quit smoking if you felt like it). Throwing talented kids into a pro environment was probably night and day from a Jr or AHL environment. Nowadays kids are following pro-style training regimens from their teenage years, the competition for spots is global, and good coaching knowledge spreads rapidly and is available at every level. The only thing that accelerating a kid gets you is a kid struggling and losing confidence.

    In that scenario, letting kids develop longer is almost certainly a consistently better strategy. I do not think leaving kids an extra year or two in a less strong league will actually hurt them, but accelerating them too soon almost certainly will.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Hammers:
    What we don’y know is if a deal was made so he can start in okl .We must also remember that age isn’t allways a deciding factor ,See Yak , RNH ,Hall plus others over the years that went straight to the NHL at 18 ,obviously superior players but they handled it .If Kharia was Swedish he would be playing with men . I trust McT & co. to make the right decision .

    Very unusual for a kid to go BCJHL to NCAA to AHL, and concerned that Pitlick went NCAA to WHL to AHL and was one year older (and failed).

  15. wheatnoil says:

    Mr DeBakey: But we do know what is wrong.

    Is there an example of where not throwing a guy into the deep end hurt his development?
    One?

    The problem with this line of thinking is that it is heavily swayed by selection bias (at least, I think that’s the type of bias, one of the stats nerds will hopefully correct me… Stats 141 was a long damn ago). We notice the ones who were thrown into the deep end because they are on our radar. However, every draft, the vast majority of draft picks are NOT thrown into the deep end and the vast majority of draft picks don’t make it.

    How many of them were just not good enough to make it? Probably most. How many could have benefited from being challenged at a higher league? Unknown… because they didn’t make it. How about all the people who weren’t thrown into the deep end and DID make it as an NHLer? Eberle was taken slowly and has turned out well. How about everyone else? Could they have done better had they been challenged earlier?

    For the record, I’m all for not throwing players into the deep end, but I’m also not a fan of holding them back ‘just because’.

    If you look at various theories of learning, Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding has proven wildly useful. Give a student a task at a higher level than he/she can perform independently but not too high, so he/she can perform with supports. Then, gradually remove the supports. (edit: this is a gross simplification of the concept and is actually more of a development of Vygotsky’s initial concept by Bruner, but this comment is long enough and this is enough to make the point)

    Applied to hockey, the theory would be to put a player in the highest league possible where he’s not completely drowning, but that he can succeed with sheltered minutes or a veteran line-mate or some other level of support. Then, gradually remove the supports and give him harder minutes (really, the Oilers did this quite well with RNH, when you think about it, slowly increasing his defensive zone starts and quality of competition; Hall too with Horcoff as his centre).

    Applied to Khaira, if the WHL is too ‘easy’ of a league for him (i.e. he can take on the highest level competition and run over them) then that isn’t ideal for his development. On the other hand, if he’s drowning in the AHL, that’s not good either. He should stay in the AHL if he can succeed in a sheltered role, so he’s still challenged and Nelson can slowly remove the supports as the season progresses.

    Whether that’s this year or next year… time will tell!

  16. Hammers says:

    Read McCartney article . What a great analysis of our players and not just because I agreed with everything he said .Hope they play Klefbom & Marinchin together . We need to see Klefbom on the L side and with a seasoned player .

  17. Bar_Qu says:

    Mr DeBakey: But we do know what is wrong.

    Is there an example of where not throwing a guy into the deep end hurt his development?
    One?

    The argument was consistently made to keep Hall, RNH and Yak up because they had nothing to prove at the junior level (despite the many fine arguments about prematurely starting an ELC on a loser team). Would Hall and Co. be as fully developed if they had gone back to the OHL/WHL? Would RNH have had shoulder surgery if he had stayed the extra year?

    I’m with Wheatnoil and speeds; if Khaira shows well enough to get a shot at the AHL then let him play there until he proves he is not capable (or until he has 9 games under his belt). I don’t think there is a specific path that all prospects need to follow, but the team developing them better figure out what that specific player needs to do in order to develop to their fullest potential. In the case of the Oilers, hopefully this is what adding the combination of Bob Green and Scott Howson to the management staff can allow the team to do – discern the best path for each individual player instead of shoving them into whatever hole they are predetermined to fit into.

  18. NAF says:

    I thought I read an interview with Everett’s manager saying Khaira wasn’t eligible to play in the AHL. Was the guy mistaken? It seems like an odd thing for someone in that position not to know.

  19. BlacqueJacque says:

    Isn’t college a step above junior? Why would we want a prospect to step down a level if he did fine at one higher?

  20. justDOit says:

    BlacqueJacque,

    I read something about Michigan Tech moving to a new division under realignment, and that they were going to be with much weaker teams.

  21. G Money says:

    Bar_Qu: The argument was consistently made to keep Hall, RNH and Yak up because they had nothing to prove at the junior level (despite the many fine arguments about prematurely starting an ELC on a loser team). Would Hall and Co. be as fully developed if they had gone back to the OHL/WHL? Would RNH have had shoulder surgery if he had stayed the extra year?

    First round picks – especially #1 overalls – are a special case though. You can hardly use that argument to support the idea that a 2nd or 3rd round pick should also be accelerated. In fact, history suggests that only top 3 draft picks are likely to make their NHL teams their first year.

    And for the record – I do not think the time they spent in the AHL during the lockout hurt Hall, Eberle, or RNH in the least. A number of Sam Gagner’s peers from his draft, most of whom also got much more seasoning in lower leagues, now look to be accelerating past him.

    So I think there is evidence to suggest that even star players would not have been any worse off with extra development time, and in Sammy’s case, probably would have helped.

    And as you note, the extra time in a lower league also has the effect – no less important in a cap era – of starting the pro contract clock ticking later.

  22. Mr DeBakey says:

    Bar_Qu: Would Hall and Co. be as fully developed if they had gone back to the OHL/WHL?

    Aaaah, the unprovable.
    The heart of the matter.
    Its hard to find examples.
    But one is Gagner vs Couture.

  23. BlacqueJacque says:

    justDOit:
    BlacqueJacque,

    I read something about Michigan Tech moving to a new division under realignment, and that they were going to be with much weaker teams.

    That part I know, I’m just wondering if Jujhar has to move out of the WCHA because the competition is weakening, why would it be preferable to send him to the dub rather than the A?

  24. Lowetide says:

    BlacqueJacque: That part I know, I’m just wondering if Jujhar has to move out of the WCHA because the competition is weakening, why would it be preferable to send him to the dub rather than the A?

    All kinds of reasons. They may feel the dip in quality for the new division Michigan Tech is heading to is on par or below the WHL, and the increased GP in the junior league is a benefit. Or, maybe they really do think he’s a candidate for AHL player.

    Either way, they wanted to sign him, and before the Ireland article today I got the feeling it was his preference and the Oilers obliged. A small item to be sure, but not insignificant.

  25. speeds says:

    Mr DeBakey,

    They are different players in different situations. Additionally, there were reasons (mono, injury) that Couture, a projected top 3 draft pick one year prior to his draft, slid to 9th overall.

    http://garejoycesgames.blogspot.ca/2007/01/catch-falling-star-logan-couture.html

  26. Ribs says:

    Stauffer tweets lines….

    Platzer-Khaira-Miller
    Baddock-Schaber-Chase
    Kessy-Ewanyk-Bilckie
    Fyten-Roy-Houck

    Gernat-Davidson
    Klefbom-Marincin
    Musil-Leach

    Cadorette

    Jack Michaels says Nurse, Betker, and Abney are the scratches.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Oilers lineup tonight. Lordy. C-L-R

    Khaira-Platzer-Miller
    Ewanyk-Kessy-Bilcke
    Schaber-Baddock-Chase
    Roy-Fyten-Houck

    Their best forwards in G1 (Khaira, Chase, Roy) are on different lines. I don’t think there’s going to be much traction.

    Klefbom-Marincin
    Gernat-Davidson
    Leach-Musil

    A nice group there. Goal: Cadorette starting Palazzese backup. They’re going to get killed tonight. I’ll say 7-1.

  28. BlacqueJacque says:

    Lowetide: All kinds of reasons. They may feel the dip in quality for the new division Michigan Tech is heading to is on par or below the WHL, and the increased GP in the junior league is a benefit. Or, maybe they really do think he’s a candidate for AHL player.

    Either way, they wanted to sign him, and before the Ireland article today I got the feeling it was his preference and the Oilers obliged. A small item to be sure, but not insignificant.

    I guess I wasn’t clear.

    I was wondering why most people in this forum think the Dub is a better choice than the A.

  29. Lowetide says:

    BlacqueJacque: I guess I wasn’t clear.

    I was wondering why most people in this forum think the Dub is a better choice than the A.

    I think the WHL is a better choice for Khaira because–despite a solid season in the NCAA–he’s not an overwhelmingly good bet to make the jump. His offense is good, but isn’t so good they absolutely have to get him to the AHL immediately.

    As speeds says above, if he can play at that level, great. However, I don’t think it’s obvious that’s the right call. In fact, I’d say it’s fairly obvious he won’t be ready.

  30. godot10 says:

    There seems to be this meme out there that Nelson is responsible for the failure of Pitlick and Hamilton.

    This is BS, IMHO.

    Jeff Petry. NHL ready in less than 40 AHL games.
    Justin Schultz. NHL ready is less than 40 AHL games.
    Fixed Magnus Paajarvi.
    Probably fixed Anton Lander.
    Mark Arcobello.
    Taylor Fedun. Knocking on the NHL door after 1 AHL season.
    Martin Marincin. Knocking on the NHL door after 1 AHL season.
    Linus Omark, NHL ready in less than 40 AHL games.
    Teemu Hartikainen. 5th round draft pick to knocking on the NHL door after 2.5 AHL seasons.

    If Khaira can play a regular shift in OKC, that is where he should be. I think you give him one of those 9 game tryouts, which also might encourage Everett to trade him to the OIl Kings.

  31. Lowetide says:

    Godot10: Agreed. Any thought that Nelson ruined those two is counter punched by performance. I don’t think there’s a good two week run in either pro career that didn’t see an uptick in playing time or a kind word from the coach.

    Hamilton has been injured and reading between the lines is much more of a perimeter player than maybe the scouting reports suggested.

    Pitlick has been injured, is more physical and looks the part, but he can’t score goals.

  32. speeds says:

    The 9 game threshold isn’t relevant for a player only playing in the AHL. Khaira’s ELC will slide whether he plays the whole year in the WHL, or the AHL – it’s only if he’s in the NHL that GP becomes a factor in whether the contract slides or not.

  33. commonfan14 says:

    Mr DeBakey: Is there an example of where not throwing a guy into the deep end hurt his development?
    One?

    You mean, other than Rob Schremp?

  34. "Steve Smith" says:

    commonfan14,

    For Schremp, the AHL was the deep end.

  35. MrDooman says:

    speeds:
    The 9 game threshold isn’t relevant for a player only playing in the AHL.Khaira’s ELC will slide whether he plays the whole year in the WHL, or the AHL – it’s only if he’s in the NHL that GP becomes a factor in whether the contract slides or not.

    But it is the threshold for if he can getsent back to the WHL, correct?

  36. commonfan14 says:

    G Money: So I think there is evidence to suggest that even star players would not have been any worse off with extra development time, and in Sammy’s case, probably would have helped.

    Of Gagner’s biggest issues (small, not a great skater, poor defensively, can’t win a face-off), I’m not sure which of them could have been helped by spending 2 more years in Junior rolling over kids on a stacked London team.

    And there were no other options.

  37. commonfan14 says:

    “Steve Smith”,

    Only because MacT lost the room.

  38. speeds says:

    MrDooman,

    As far as I know, players eligible for the WHL can be sent back at any time. Teams generally don’t after 9 games because they’ve already burned the year anyways, and they thought the player was worth keeping to begin with.

    One example is Luca Sbisa, who PHI kept up for 39 games the year after he was drafted (2008), before sending him back to Lethbridge of the WHL in February 2009

  39. BlacqueJacque says:

    godot10,

    Yeah, I think Nelson’s being held to the same ridiculous standard as the amateur scouting department, where failures outweighs successes, even though the law of averages suggests that there have to be more failures than successes.

  40. G Money says:

    commonfan14: Of Gagner’s biggest issues (small, not a great skater, poor defensively, can’t win a face-off), I’m not sure which of them could have been helped by spending 2 more years in Junior rolling over kids on a stacked London team.

    Of the four issues you mention, three can be improved, probably just as effectively *if not moreso* in a junior and AHL setting than in a pressure-packed NHL situation. I’ll leave you to figure out which three …

    (EDIT: I should also note that one of the reasons that London team was stacked in the first place is because they had Gagner and Kane on the first line. I think it would have been great for his development if Gagner had spent a year in junior without Kane …)

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