The Edmonton Oilers badly need Jujhar Khaira to turn into a useful NHL player. His skill set (big man, powerful stride, aggressiveness and puck skills) make him the best powerforward prospect in the system.
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER FIVE ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: D Doug Lynch
- December 2005: C Andrew Cogliano
- December 2006: L Jean-Francois Jacques
- December 2007: C Rob Schremp
- December 2008: D Alex Plante
- December 2009: D Theo Peckham
- December 2010: D Theo Peckham
- December 2011: D Martin Marincin
- December 2012: L Teemu Hartikainen
Cogliano is the only member of the ’5′ list to emerge as a legit NHL player, and frankly his presence at 4 and 5 on previous lists is probably an error in ranking (he should have been higher). The rest of this lists is guys who didn’t make it at all, guys who are adding down arrows as we speak, and the young Marincin. We’d be silly to ignore the won loss record (1 win, Cogliano; 4 losses—Lynch, Jacques, Schremp, Plante; and two guys we’re not sure of yet in Peckham and Hartikainen we’ll call ties) in past seasons.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Redline: 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.
POINTS BY DISCIPLINE, JUJHAR KHAIRA
|KHAIRA 2012-13 (NCAA)||37, 2-14-16 .432||37, 4-4-8 .216||37, 0-0-0||37, 6-18-24|
|KHAIRA 2013-14 (WHL)||12, 2-3-5 .417||12, 1-2-3 .250||12, 0-0-0||12, 3-5-8|
Across two leagues it looks like we have him surrounded offensively. Khaira’s skills apparently earn him time on the PP (front of the net presence?) but he’s miles from someone like Marco Roy with the man advantage. His NHLE’s over three years (82, 6-11-17; 82, 5-18-23 and this season 82, 6-10-16) suggest we’re looking at a PF who has some issues offensively and he is not a certain top 6F candidate in pro hockey.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2012: 15
- Winter 2012: 7
- Summer 2013: 6
- Winter 2013: 5
The Oilers drafted Khaira in 2012 summer in the third round, with the hope that he or Mitchell Moroz (taken one round earlier) would be able to give the team a big forward who could play with an edge. 18 months later, Khaira leads the pairing but there’s a long road to go.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON
- 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.”
- Kevin 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.
- This blog: Young man showed flashes of brilliance–and size–but will spend the winter with the Everett Silvertips. We should expect some impressive boxcars. This is probably the right call, although some wondered if time in OKC would have been a wise option.
- 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: “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.”
Khaira overcame injury earlier in the season and is back and productive with the Silvertips. Khaira can play center or wing, but is getting increased playing time in the middle with Everett. His WHL is an extremely defensive team, so I’m tempted to give him a small break on the lack of offense so far this season.
In ranking Khaira at #5 this winter, it’s also important to mention he may be the most valued forward in the system. The Oilers have average sized and big skilled among the forward group in abundance, but are very much lacking a size/speed/rugged player like Khaira. The fact that he can play in the middle, and is getting an education in defensive play from Kevin Constantine just adds to the attraction.
Khaira will turn pro a year from now and will have an enormous opportunity to show well. The organization is dying for his player type and the progress made already may mean he gets a long look next fall with the big club. If Khaira can score enough to play in the top 9F the Oilers will make room for him the moment he’s ready.
No other forward in the system has that kind of opportunity.