The Edmonton Oilers called up Jujhar Khaira to the NHL today, a fabulous moment for the young prospect
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 26, 2015
One of my favorite things about being a fan is watching a prospect develop and finally get to the NHL. I imagine his entire family (I believe his Dad is a trucker) fist pumping this afternoon and hugs all around. Making the NHL is a dream most Canadians have when they are kids but it’s a rare, rare thing. Good for Jujhar Khaira, he earned the chance. A quick look back on his progress as we followed it on this blog:
- Red Line before the draft: 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.
- Todd Nelson: “He thinks the game really well on the ice and when you couple that with the size and skill he has, it’s going to be a very bright future for him. He’s an intelligent guy. He knows what he has to do to get better and he works hard at it. With his size and maturity and the way he approaches the game, who knows where his top level is, but I think the future is looking really positive for him.”
- Todd Nelson: “We’ve seen flashes of what JJ can be. He just needs time to mature. We’re trying to mould JJ into a two-way centreman, somebody who can kill penalties, late in games trying to preserve a game. He has the size. He just needs experience.” Source
- Lowetide, April 2015: Another big man, the sense I got out of training camp is that Khaira (and Bogdan Yakimov) had stepped ahead of some others in the organization based on management’s estimation. Khaira didn’t deliver much offense in OKC (51GP, 4-6-10) and his boxcars are a comparable for Moroz and Travis Ewanyk—the job Khaira will be applying for in the NHL (should be make it) will need a far better bat than the one he’s showing so far in his pro career. Source
That last part is the question with this player and there are signs of progress. Overall he’s 16GP, 3-4-7 and that’s good production compared to a year ago (51GP, 4-6-10) but I always like to see what’s shaking at even strength. Why? Unlikely Khaira plays 5×4, although he has been used as a screen on the power play but that would seem to be a distant bell. Let’s look at Khaira at even strength:
- Jujhar Khaira 2014-15 AHL: 51GP 4-6-10 .196 points-per-game
- Jujhar Khaira 2015-16 AHL: 16GP, 3-3-6 .375 points-per-game
I feel Bogdan Yakimov is the more substantial prospect, his EV numbers last season were better:
- Bogdan Yakimov 2014-15 AHL: 57GP, 9-14-23 .404 points-per-game
- Bogdan Yakimov 2015-16 AHL: 12GP, 2-2-4 .333 points-per-game
but this season has him injured again (and knee again) so Khaira may end up being the more successful pro.
- Jim Matheson: Centre Bogdan Yakimov re-injured the same knee he had surgery on last season, too, and he’s out as well. The knee started to bother him after the season started. “We’ll see in a couple of weeks where he’s at and we’ll go from there,” said (Bakersfield coach Gerry) Fleming. Source
The estimate on Nail Yakupov is 2-4 weeks, but as one might imagine that’s a prelim and this is an active story
— Marty Klinkenberg (@globemartyk) November 26, 2015
I’ll have more on Nail, the new lines and Cam Talbot tomorrow morning on the GD post. Also, this:
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) November 26, 2015
I’m betting even earlier. Late December, early January return is my guess. Interesting timing for this story, coming the day after a discouraging loss and a devastating injury to a former No. 1 overall pick. Love those veteran GMs! More tomorrow morning.