Last Chance Texaco

by Lowetide

Jujhar Khaira has covered his draft bet. Chosen in the third round, No. 63 overall in the 2012 entry draft, he has played in 218 NHL games. Scott Cullen’s numbers suggest a third-round selection has a 27.3% chance of playing 100 NHL games, so Khaira has passed the test.

Notable Oilers picks from the third round in the last 25 years include Tom Poti (824 NHL games), Mike Comrie (589 NHL games), Zack Stortini (297 NHL games), Theo Peckham (160 NHL games) and Anton Slepyshev (102 NHL games).


I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.


Khaira is 26, has been in the NHL for three full seasons and averages 19.5 points per 82 games. His five on five points per 60 total (0.80) ranked him No. 356 out of 372 forwards who played enough (just shy of 400 minutes) to qualify as an NHL regular.

The names from 350-372 in scoring are a good guess for “next NHL player who has spent his last season in the league” and Khaira is a candidate even at 26. In that area there are veterans with contracts that are not tradeable and would be difficult to buy out: Jay Beagle, Frans Nielsen, Justin Abdelkader. There are also fringe guys like Patrick Russell, Greg McKegg and Luke Glendening. Finally there are players who were supposed to be better and are getting a second opinion: Adam Erne, Christian Fischer.

Khaira’s PK work is grand, but a 30 percent goal share at five on five is beyond replaceable. In 195 minutes (that’s significant) against elite competition, Puck IQ tells us he was poor (DFF% 33.50, -14.40 DFF%RC, 3-9 goals and 2.77 GA-60) and this an area that could roster turnover as soon as training camp.

I believe he’s famous enough to get a chance with another NHL team, but those 218 NHL games he’s played up to now are likely well more than 50 percent of his final total. I’ve always cheered for him, his Dad is a truck driving man and those are my people (working folks). He can’t have another season like last one and stay.


Both Euro signings had better possession numbers than Khaira, and goal shares that were closer to acceptable.

Nygard’s numbers look good full stop, he should be a strong candidate for one of the left wing spots although it’s getting mighty crowded. Entering training camp I would think he’s behind Nuge, Kahun, Ennis and Neal, while being ahead of Benson, Gambardella and Safin. Bubble NHL, at this time, but someone will get hurt so we could safely estimate 40 games.

Haas is a fascinating player to me, I like him and he could emerge as No. 4 center in 2020-21. I love his forechecking and he did score five goals last season. I see center as being in almost constant motion during the season, with McDavid, Draisaitl and Turris occupying most of the playing time. No. 4 center will need to be a penalty killer and someone who can slide up and hold his own as required. Haas has a chance.


A busy Friday morning, we hit the air at 10, TSN1260, with Steve Lansky joining us to talk about a start date for the 2020-21 NHL season and his Grey Cup podcast for “Inside the Truck” recently. Tom Gazzola from TSN will pop in at 11 and give us an overview of both the World Juniors and Oilers practicing down at the rink. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Friday!


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November 27, 2020 10:40 am

The 2 biggest weaknesses on the Oilers F roster last year were Sheahan and Khaira. Both were good at PK though. I guess we hope JK can repeat his PK numbers and improve 5v5. Like LT said, if not he wont finish the season.

It’s weird how Archibald gets a pass in all this. He was -17 at 5v5. Khaira was -19. Sheahan was -20.

But Archibald played a bit more than 1/4 of his minutes with McDavid. With McDavid he was 8GF-5GA (despite a 41% shot share).

That means without McDavid, Archibald was 11GF-31GA (26%) in just 425 minutes. Yikes.

I’ve liked the player and thought he’s likely to be better. And he was good on the PK.

But looking at this, and just now looking back at his underlying numbers relative to team over his 3 seasons… (shots, scoring chances, HD chances, xGoals). They’ve been universally bad all 3 years. Perhaps Archibald is every bit as culpable as Sheahan and Khaira (and P. Russell) for that mess of a 3rd line last season? I don’t think I’ve ever even considered that before.

If nothing else, maybe Khaira (and Sheahan, though it doesn’t matter) deserves similar slack as Archibald has gotten in terms of being better in a different situation.


LT, did you know you got covered by The Hockey Writers?

SK Oiler Fan

Never have agreed with NHL GP as a good measure for draft success in the mid to later rounds. The Oilers have drafted poorly over the past 25 years compared to the competition and given way to many GP to players that never would have been given a sniff on even an average NHL team.
Contribution to winning games is what matters and there were many years where players were obviously not evaluated by this measure with this org.



Haas has a unique skill. That is forcing the opposition to take penalties. We need more of this

He did indeed draw penalties at a high rate last year. I remember a while back asking the question of if it was a repeatable skill – I can’t remember who I was talking to, it may have been McCurdy (could be wrong on that) and they did some research and the answer was “maybe” – there were some players like Dustin Brown that drew PIMs at a high rate year after year but there was generally alot of variance.


…slipping in Carly Simon,..of course you did, man….thanks LT


…..funny, Rickie Lee Jones wrote it of course, not sure where Carly came from but that image was on my brain….oops, man…thanks LT


Matty reporting that the Oilers are looking at finding a spot for Kemp in Europe. Given how far they European teams are in to their seasons (well, except for DEL) and Kemp not being any sort of “blue-chip” type prospect, I figured we would be waiting until the AHL starts up with a potential ECHL stint.

This would be great is they can find a place for him to play.


Maybe ‘blue-chip’ prospects and others start heading to North America soon, opening spots for players like Kemp?


Potentially but I would think they Oilers would want Kemp at training camp and assigned to the AHL when it gets going.

It doesn’t look like the Heat, Condors and Comets will be playing in Canada which will mean that taxi squads/expanded rosters will be need for the Oilers which will deplete the Condors even further – they will need Kemp.


Training camp this year will be to get the starters and near starters or tweeners ready. Kemp is a raw prospect. There is no need for him to be at this training camp. A regular training camp in a regular season, yes. But not in a truncated training camp for a truncated season.

Like Broberg, they can bring him back at the end of the European season if need be.


While I agree that training camp will not have 60 players to start like usual, probably in the 35 player range – I anticipate that Kemp will be there.

Samourkov won’t be there. Berglund won’t be there. Broberg won’t be there (unless camp starts right as the World Juniors ends).

Lagesson (7D)

Last edited 1 month ago by OriginalPouzar

If they want to see JJ play better, bring up Woodcroft for the season. JJ blossomed under Woodcroft’s guidance. He played with confidence and had his best career results. I say Woodcroft and not McClelland as the credit and performance increase in this case lies directly with Woodcroft. If the AHL really is in trouble, it would be an excellent move to bring in Woodcroft to assist with the youngsters.

Also, in my opinion, JJ models his game after Leon. When he gets a hold of the puck he immediately tries to protect it and then do something with it, he does not like to just fire it up the boards to clear the zone. Problem is that also leads to give-a-ways. JJ’s other attribute is that he is stronger than 90% of the players, yet he does not use this attribute nearly enough.

Last edited 1 month ago by digger50

I was an advocate for trading JJ at the deadline, and my thoughts haven’t changed.

He did move his feet a little better when slotted at C, but we will see if there is sustain.

If there isn’t I’d much rather Haas.

Scungilli Slushy

If Haas was stronger on his skates he would have a roster spot for sure with that speed and motor.

Who knows why he’s not, but often it is about bulking up some. Most players do (or have to) once they hit the NHL, where the worst players are still big strong and can skate well enough.

Especially important is leg development. I remember Moreau I think it was referring to young guys and spaghetti legs back in the day.

Even Nuge had to hit the iron back in the Baby Nuge era. He sure bounced off a lot of bodies his first year or two.


That’s how he draws penalties it pays to be weak in today’s NHL. Just look at that skilled stick in Vancouver Pettersson he’s as weak as a 13 year old girl. If he keeps flopping every time a stiff wind nears someone’s going to cave him in good real good.


Haas turns 29 in January, in case you’re waiting for him to bulk up.

Scungilli Slushy



and calories


I’m a JJ fan, love seeing success stories from within the organization.

But if he ends up in need of a second opinion, what would be his trade value? He was rumoured to be available for Nick Ritchie but the Bruins offered Danton Heinen and won the trade.

So we could safely say something like this: JK < NR ~= DH

What would that look like as a draft pick, a fourth or fifth rounder?

Would we be able to trade JJ for the likes of: Trevor Moore, Austin Watson, Jordan Weal, Mason Appleton, Derek Grant, Tomas Nosek, Nic Dowd, Kyle Clifford, or even Christian Fischer?

Is it clear that any of those players would be an upgrade, if available?

Is JJ just keeping the 4C spot warm until the likes of Haas, or McLeod take over on merit?


I thought the story was Boston would have traded Heinen for Khaira, but EDM didn’t bite. Forget who the source was on that one.


Good catch, I believe you’re right and I had mixed up the details.

Either way, JJ is in the range… so who else would that be equivalent to, or what is a reasonable comp for a draft pick?


Given the likes of Kahun are signing for less than JJ’s current $1.2M, I would suggest he doesn’t have trade value – except in exchange for a similar type asset/contract.


This is what precipitated me combing the fourth lines across the league to find comparable players who might be had via trade.

Do any of those I listed stand out to you as reasonable/desirable?


From a high level, without researching any of those players at all, I would prefer to keep Khaira as a younger player going in to a contract year and knowing that a pedestrian performance likely has him out of the league and without a contract offer for 2020/21.

If nothing else, he has developed familiarity and chemistry with Nuge on a PK unit.

Last edited 1 month ago by OriginalPouzar

“Is JJ just keeping the 4C spot warm until the likes of Haas, or McLeod take over on merit?”

I kind of feel like Khaira and Haas are both doing that until a better option (internal or external) comes along.


Rodrigue with his first professional loss as the Graz99ers lost 6-3

Benson has a goal and an assist as the GCK Lions are tired at 2 in the third.

Lavoie with PPG as Vasby dropped a 5-3 decision.

Rasanen with an assist as Kalpal lost 4-3 in a shoot out.


Love the updates, OP. Keep them coming.


A week or so ago, I posted about Aquilini deciding not to have the comments play in Canada as it would be too costly. Disappointing info.

Listening to Friedman today and I believe he lumped the Heat in the same category.

I would assume that means the Condors won’t play on Canada either as there would be no real point as there will have to be taxi squads.

That SUCKS!!!

Mainly, the top prospects will be on a taxi squad and not playing. Presumably, Bouchard, Benson, McLeod, etc. Sure, they are practicing with the NHL team but it would be much preferred if they were playing games.

Secondly, that means the AHL team playing down south is decimated of their top players and simply not as much fun to watch (which I something I really enjoy doing).



Who was JJ most common linemates during his bet 5×5 season? Were they good 5×5 players versus his linemates the past 2 seasons?


This past season is was mostly Sheahan, Patrick Russell and Archibald. The prior two seasons, his most common linemate in order of most ice time first were Kassian, Puljujarvi, Strome, Draisaitl, Nuge, Brodziak, and Caggiula. He played a lot less center but he got to play with 3 decent centers more than not. His goal shares were 43%, 39% and 31% getting progressively worse each season. No doubt Sheahan in particular helped pull him down, but even playing with guys Strome, Draisaitl and Nuge quite a bit, his overall goal share was still not good.


JJ is the last man standing as far as the 2012 draft goes. What a terrible draft that was! 2013 is just Darnell Nurse, and if Oscar doesn’t come back, we will be down to RNH for 2011.

Luckily for us we did ok in 2014 and 2015. Need Jesse or Benson to gain some traction to keep the chains moving from 2016 to the most recent three drafts. Each of the last three have 2 or 3 good NHL bets in theM I believe.

Harpers Hair

While some talk about Khaira representing some size and toughness in the Oilers line up, the main argument for keeping Khaira seems to be his penalty killing.  If he does not improve his 5 on 5 contributions to the team however, his one good season of penalty killing even if sustained is not enough to overcome the fact that his total on-ice contribution to the team based on 2019/20 is negative.  (data below from Naturalstattrick)
Yes, Khaira’s penalty killing in 2019/20 was exemplary, certainly based on the results. This needs to be tempered somewhat with the fact that he is on the second unit, and likely either facing the back half of the other team’s first power play unit time, or the second power play unit. Further, Khaira benefitted from having the league best pk on ice save % (an amazing 94.4%) of any forward who played more than 100 minutes on the pk last season and that is likely to regress at least somewhat.  If Khaira was the sole positive factor in any 4 man pk unit he was part of, (mostly Nuge, Nurse and Bear), and he was replaced causing the unit dropped to average, that would have resulted in an extra ~8 goals against (The median pk forward was on ice for ~7.4 ga/60vs Khaira’s 2.4 ga/60. That extra 5 GA/60 translates to 8.33 ga over the 100 minutes of pk Khaira played last season). While Khaira was a solid contributor to the success, I doubt he was the key factor.
At 5 on 5, Khaira was -19 and his goal share was the worst of any Oiler forward. The save % while Khaira was on the ice was not good 90.3% and was among the lowest on the Oilers, but the median among forwards on the team was 91% so he wasn’t that much unluckier than others.  Even if the Oilers in general, and Khaira’s on-ice 5 on 5 save percentage were to improve, unless, Khaira finds a way that he and his linemates can sustain more offense than Khaira has shown over any meaningful stretch of games, his pk contributions at best won’t come close to making up for the drag his 5 on 5 performance has been the past 3 seasons. I am not sure the brief 4 game sample against Chicago with Chaisson and Neal is sustainable for long stretches (all 3 have been notoriously streaky the last few seasons when it comes to 5 on 5 GF).   

If Gaeten Haas can kill penalties like he does in Europe, I could see the Oilers platooning he and Khaira at 4C, with Khaira getting the nod when Tippett feels he needs some additional bigger bodies in the line-up. Maybe if he is platooned, it will light a spark in Khaira getting him to realize he needs to bring energy and urgency more consistently throughout the season to stay an every game regular. He seems to have the tools.  


This is good information and I mostly agree.

I just wanted to make the point though that (I think) Khaira really is a very good penalty killer. Tempering his results from last season is definitely fair, and his numbers in 18-19 were only decent, not great. But he also had very strong results in 17-18.

If you look over the past 3 seasons, 121 forwards played 250+ minutes of 4v5 PK (pretty neatly 4 forwards per team).

Among those 121 forwards Khaira was on ice for the 11th fewest SA/60 and the 5th fewest GA/60.

Elite PK results over 3 season, and on a team that was 16th in SA/60 and 24th in GA/60 over that span.

I think Khaira truly is a plus penalty killer.


But sadly, since he only averages a 1:35 per game on the pk, but almost 11 minutes per game at even strength, even if he stays being the best second unit penalty killer in the league, he won’t be able to overcome the harm that happens to the Oilers during the other 85% of the time he spends on the ice. Average performance on both the pk and 5 on 5 will beat exemplary pk performance combined with really bad 5 on 5 outcomes. He needs to be a lot better or he should not be in the line up on a regular basis. The Oilers, if everyone stays healthy, now appear to have more options.


The Oilers will have a very good top nine relegating the fourth line to few minutes. He should also have better line mates.


100% agree his PK work doesn’t balance out his 5v5 results. Khaira needs to be better at evens, and there are reasons to hope he will be.

You were downplaying the quality of his PK work, I just wanted to say he deserves credit for actually being an excellent penalty killer. That definitely isn’t enough if it’s accompanied by 30% GF at 5v5.


While I agree that this is his last chance Texaco, at least some of the issue last season was due to linemates. Here is his on-ice GF/60 with his two most common linemates:

Sheahan: 1.24 GF/60
P Russell: 0.31 GF/60

That’s pretty bad. Next year, however, he likely won’t see those guys at all. His projected linemates in the coming season are these guys:

Chiasson: 2.08 GF/60
Neal: 2.41
Archibald: 1.33

That looks a lot better, doesn’t it? It doesn’t mean Haas won’t beat him out of a roster spot, but Tippett seemed to like the Neal-Khaira-Chiasson line late in the season and he went with it in the playoffs, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start where he left off when it comes to the 4th line, and if so, it should result in better scoring numbers for JJ.


i would argue its the other way around… Khaira killed Sheahan. All season long, regardless of who was with him, Sheahan played the other teams’ best players with a zone start in the Dzone. after i believe 7 games him and JJ were -12 and JJ was shipped off the line. Sheahan continued to play the other teams’ best players while JJ went to play the other teams’ fourth lines. so for 60 or so odd games Sheahan played the other teams’ best players, took 75% of the draws in his own zone against those players, and ended the seasson an additional -8. JJ played those other teams fourth lines and ended the season -8 after the -12 start with Sheahan. When Sheahan played with Nygard for a month they were collectively plus (with Archibald), with the brutal zone starts and extreme qoc. while i recognize Sheahan wasnt up to the Herculean task that was asked of him, and he did probably cost the oilers the season against Chicago with a brutal turnover that led to the tying goal with 4 minutes left in game 3, if it were up to me i would much much rather have RS than JJ for this season, and frankly if he would sign for league minimum , which i am sure at this point he would, i would welcome him back.

can anyone here, with the current lineup, explain to me the righty/lefty combinations that will work for the PK? i think it will regress substantially without RS, and if he is on the fourth line, with Turris taking half of those zone starts and qoc, i suspect he would thrive.

Last edited 1 month ago by oilersfan


Of note, Yamamoto killed some penalties late last year as well, another rightie.

With that said, I don’t think leftie/rightie matters nearly as much on the PK, in particular given “controlled” exits are not a priority.

Nuge/Khaira, two lefties, formed a fantastic PK2 last year.


Do you think Khaira, Haas and Archibald will ALL be in the lineup?


Nope – As of right now, only one of Haas or Khaira.

Archie needs to be as well and that might mean scratching Chiasson…..

Although I hope this isn’t the case, there is a chance that Puljuarvi is not one of the best 12 forwards….

Last edited 1 month ago by OriginalPouzar

Yeah largely my thoughts too. Though I could see Archibald out of the lineup as well as the others.

I think Yamamoto is likely to be a regular penalty killer this year, since it will help the team ice a better 5v5 lineup.


Yes, I agree that that line has the potential to start the season as a trio.

The only issue I have with that/it is that it pushes Archie out of the lineup, doesn’t it?

Of course, the chances of a fully healthy forward group for opening night is unlikely so injury will “fix” that problem.

Although I suspect that camp will be 10 days max with two exhibition games max so maybe they can be healthy…..


Khaira had just an awful season at evens last year. A very useful and important piece of a great PK but just awful at evens – he did recover a bit down the stretch when moved to center but not near enough to “save his season”.

I do think there is a player there though – an every day NHL 4th liner. When Khaira is playing well and confident, he carries the puck out of the defensive zone and through the neutral zone with power and confidence. He can be a physical player the causes turnovers on the forecheck. He made some high end mistakes early last year – a few giveaways in the defensive zone that led to goal against and a few bad line changes that led to goals against. I believe he lost confidence and never recovered.

Khaira can be a plus 4th liner but he can also be a poor NHL player at evens – at 26, its unlikely he will find consistency but he’s got one more season to prove it.

I believe the Khaira is on the roster and in the opening day lineup on Tippett’s current while board. 4C and PK. The battle is with Haas who has shown to be responsible and able to not get caved in the Oilers’ bottom 6. Haas brings speed and, in a small sample, that ability to draw penalties. He has PK acumen in Europe and, if that translates to the NHL, well, it may be sail on Khaira if he doesn’t seize his last opportunity.

Right now I have Khaira at 4C, Haas at 5C and Nygard at 15F (and assigned if he clears waivers).

That could change if Khaira continues to falter at 5 on 5 and/or Haas shows progression.

I worry about durability of both Haas and Nygard – the physical NHL grind is a different beast from European hockey.


The 2 biggest weaknesses on the Oilers F roster last year were Sheahan and Khaira. Both were good at PK though. I guess we hope JK can repeat his PK numbers and improve 5v5. Like LT said, if not he wont finish the season.


After years upon years Linseman, Mactavish days of having below replacement 3rd line centres we not only have one but he’s top 10 if not better. Turris is Tippetts boy he will flourish and take us from a pretender to a contender. We easily can roll after roll the 3 best centre combo in the league with the road to Stanley right down the middle.


If Haas never plays a game for Edmonton again, I will remember him fondly. Tossing Tkachuk on his ass before going 5-hole penalty shot on Rittich to make it 8-3. Sends happy chemicals to my brain.


Hope that doesn’t happen. I feel he has room to grow and more to give before reaching his peak.


As long as your 4th liners give you top 5 pk in the league and cause a Belanger triangle on evens thats good for me


I agree, but the problem is that Khaira wasn’t a Belanger triangle (or Lucic tripod) at evens. He and his linemates bled goals against and were all around -20 on the season at 5on5.

Some ways to correct that bleeding:
1) Change the mix of players. Sheahan is gone, a bunch of others have been added. Khaira looks likely to play with guys like Neal and Chiasson, who spent considerable time in the top 6 last season.
2) Easier minutes. Khaira and his line played 3rd line comp with 30ish% Ozone starts last season. Playing vs 4th line comp, and 40-something % Ozone starts should help.
3) Play them less. Khaira has played around 11 even strength minutes in each of the past 3 seasons. With Kahun, Turris, Ennis (full season), Puljujarvi being added above, the Oilers 4th line will NOT be playing 11 minutes a game (unless they earn it by playing really damn effective hockey).

Khaira is a legitimately good penalty killer. I think there are a lot of reasons to hope he can be an effective 4th line forward at evens. I’m optimistic about Khaira, as well as the Oilers bottom 6 more generally.


Haas has a unique skill. That is forcing the opposition to take penalties. We need more of this


And falling. Don’t forget falling (insert wink emoji here)


Hence the PIM drawing…..


Hass may be the best Oiler ever usually a 4th liner does not garner the respect of the Refs and he has to be literally tackled and then some to draw a penalty. Hass leaves no other option for the Refs he doesn’t embellish he just has a knack of making the opponent look guilty of a crime. If he could teach this skill to Connor we would be on the power play 25 more times a year.

Brantford Boy

Been routing for the big man from the lower mainland since draft day. Thought we saw a turning point during the 16/17 playoffs and the following season. Sadly this was followed by 2 years of serious regression. I don’t have enough digits available to count the pucks he should have cleared in the defensive zone to break up the sortie. I’ll cheer for him until he doesn’t wear Oilers silks, but if he can’t lock down the 4th line centre position this year I fear it’s last chance Texaco.

Thanks for pointing out the Scott Cullen reference LT, should give me something to research over the weekend that I asked several posts ago regarding how many games covers the bet and what makes a player elite etc.

Brantford Boy

Thank LT, much appreciated… I did find this graph:comment image

Brantford Boy

Sorry, I didn’t realize it would actually post the image… my bad.


Thanks for ALL the Oilers work you do Lowtde


LT: “He can’t have another season like last one and stay.”

I don’t think there’s much question about that.

There’s some hope he can be better based on previous seasons. 1.38P/60, though GF% still below 40% last season. Not ‘good’ but getting towards passable.

Also his recent role as a C, it’s not something we can count on continuing with success but it definitely showed some promise. We’ll see. Agreed that he will need to be better to continue as an Oiler beyond this season.