This is Jujhar Khaira. He was a draft and follow, plucked out of the BCHL early (third round) and one of the youngest players in the 2012 draft. He was ranked No. 74 on the North American list in 2012, when adding in the European skaters and both goaltenders lists we’re talking mid-fourth round (early 100’s). Edmonton took him No. 63 overall, early third round.
Scouting director Stu MacGregor used many picks on the British Columbia league, but most were not successful. Khaira has carved out an NHL career. His 1.67 pts-60 at five on five in 2020-21 represents a career high.
There are few things in sports I enjoy more than a draft and follow. I discovered the practice during my years as a baseball fan. A team would take some kid who had barely played ball because he was so young but had potential. A crusty old scout would be quoted in Baseball America saying “well, my car broke down in Barstow and I had to stay over. Found a high school game and this kid is all arms and legs, loosy-goosy, but I clocked him at 89, which was more than he weighed at the time. He’s a kid we like, if he can get a foot on that fastball of his and we can get his entire body heading to the plate at the same time, maybe we have something” and it stuck with me as a chance to cheat the system. Any system.
Long odds, mind, but better to take a player whose photo hasn’t quite developed but is intriguing, than one who is fully developed and unimpressive. And at the end of the draft, that can happen. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the ultimate saw him good. Drafting players who are barely eligible due to age.
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STEVE TAMBELLINI (2009-12)
- 2010—L Kristians Pelss in the 7th round, No. 181 overall. Born September 9, 1992. Drafted out of Belarus, he played junior with the Edmonton Oil Kings, and played one year of pro in the Oilers system before passing away.
- 2012—C Jujhar Khaira in the 3rd round, No. 63 overall. Born August 13, 1994. Drafted out of Prince George (BCJHL) after 17-year old season, he attended Michigan Tech for one year and Everett (WHL) for one year then turned pro. Khaira has played 258 NHL games.
CRAIG MACTAVISH 2013-14
- 2013—F Aidan Muir in the 4th round, No. 113 overall. Born August 21, 1995. Drafted out of Victory Honda Midget (MWEHL) after 17-year old season, he played with Indiana (USHL) and moved to Western Michigan University for three seasons. Has made progress, but suffered from injury. Played just seven games of pro hockey.
Over the years, Edmonton has had successful early picks, although Sam Gagner (first round 2007, born August 1989) and Ales Hemsky (first round 2001, born August 1983) were chosen too high to be considered draft and follow selections.
It isn’t a long list, because Edmonton has been going the other way (overagers, we’ll cover that at a later date) and there hasn’t been a lot of success, but for a team drafting late (Edmonton has several picks past No. 100 overall) a player with more development time might be a good idea.
- RC Ryan Winterton, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL). September 4, 2003. He had a strong WJ’s (7, 2-2-4) but did not play this season. I have him No. 94 on my final list. He’s 6.02 and owns a plus shot.
- LW Olen Zellwegger, Everett Silvertips (WHL). September 10, 2003. Small (5.09, 165) skill winger who scored 2-11-13 in 11 games in the dub this season. I have him No. 35.
- LC Lorenzo Canonica, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL). September 3, 2003. A great skater , went 6-10-16 in 24 QMJHL games this season. I have him No. 51.
- LW Joshua Roy, Sherbrooke Phhoenix (QMJHL). August 6, 2003. I have him No. 36 overall, his QMJHL season (35 games, 22-13-35) will have gotten noticed.
- LD Graham Sward, Spokane Chiefs (WHL). September 12, 2003. He is 6.02, 180 and a shutdown blue. I have him No. 74 overall.
- G William Blackburn, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL). September 1, 2003. 5.11, 172 and has a .907 save percentage
- LC Jakub Brabenec, Brno (Czech). September 11, 2003. Now the Euro list. Skilled center with size, quality at U18s. I have him No. 63 overall.
- RC Jeremi Tammela, Lukko (U20 SM Sarja) September 12, 2003. Scored 16 goals in 34 games in the regular season and 5-5-10 in eight playoff games.
TOP BOTTOM-SIX FIVE ON FIVE PTS 60, CANADIAN DIVISION
- Jason Spezza, Toronto 3.11
- Adam Lowry, Winnipeg 2.04
- Derek Ryan, Calgary 1.91
- Mason Appleton, Winnipeg 1.77
- Andrew Copp, Winnipeg 1.73
- Paul Byron, Montreal 1.71
- Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton 1.67
- Austin Watson, Ottawa 1.65
- Alex Kerfoot, Toronto 1.63
- Tyler Motte, Toronto 1.61
- Sam Bennett, Calgary 1.60
- Tyler Ennis, Edmonton 1.54
- Pierre Engvall, Toronto 1.54
- Joe Thornton, Toronto 1.53
- Jimmy Vesey, Toronto 1.41
- Josh Leivo, Calgary 1.40
- Brett Ritchie, Calgary 1.37
- Ryan Dzingel, Ottawa 1.37
- Joel Armia, Montreal 1.34
- Jake Evans, Montreal 1.33
- Chris Tierney, Ottawa 1.30
- Alex Chiasson, Edmonton 1.29
- Ilya Mikhayev, Toronto 1.29
- Corey Perry, Montreal 1.20
I’ve been reading about Khaira as a guy who shouldn’t return, but I think he’s one of the players who should be back. Fine PK man, scored well this season in a depth role. I’d surround him with miles more skill, but Khaira for me has earned another contract. I do not have an explanation for the usage of Tyler Ennis, it is not logical.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning on the show, we start at 10 sharp, TSN1260. Tennis analyst John Horn will pop in at 10:20 to talk French Open and Frank Seravalli arrives at 11 to talk NHL playoffs and Oilers summer. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!