Jujhar Khaira has four goals in his first three AHL games this season, as he enters the final year of this entry-level deal. Khaira (in photo by Mark Williams, all rights reserved) may be that more rare of things: An Oiler draft pick developed successfully (forward division) using the AHL as the final stop before making a successful jump to the NHL.


If we go back to the turn of the century, and look for forwards who were

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Drafted outside the first round
  • Entered pro hockey via the AHL
  • Developed during their three year entry-level deal.

We come up with a fairly rare group. Remember, there have been 17 drafts if we include 2000, and only six men qualify:

Brad Winchester

  • Year One AHL 65gp, 13-6-19 .292
  • Year Two AHL 76gp, 22-18-40 .526
  • Year Three AHL 40gp, 26-14-40 1.000

By the end of year three, Winchester was in the NHL and scoring one of the most famous Oilers goals of the century (hello, octopus!). He was one of very few men who developed in the minors for Edmonton, eventually playing in 390 NHL games. Note: Nice progress offensively year over year.

Jarret Stoll

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Year One AHL 76gp, 21-33-54 .711

Stoll spent one season in the AHL before graduating to the NHL (he did return during the lockout season) but he remains unique in this century—he was probably NHL-ready but the organization slow played their talent. Perhaps a lesson to be learned here.

Zack Stortini

  • Year One AHL 64gp, 2-8-10 .156
  • Year Two AHL 47gp, 9-6-15 .319

Stortini would make the NHL in year three of his deal, although he spent a cup of coffee in year three before being elevated to the NHL. Stortini is somewhat unique in that the job he was applying for (and won) no longer exists (enforcer type), it is true he improved offensively in his second AHL season.

Kyle Brodziak

  • Year One AHL 56gp, 6-26-32 .571
  • Year Two AHL 55gp, 12-19-31 .564
  • Year Three AHL 62gp, 24-32-56 .903

Brodziak had two seasons that were basically the same, and then spiked in year three. I remember his development, he was always applying for the same job as Marc Pouliot at the NHL level—eventually winning that two-way job in another organization.

Chris VandeVelde

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Year One AHL 67gp, 12-4-16 .239
  • Year Two AHL 68gp, 7-16-23 .338
  • Year Three AHL 57gp, 7-13-20 .351

VDV never did get untracked offensively, but used his other skills to make himself valuable to an NHL team (currently at 207 NHL games and counting). He is somewhat similar in style and possible role to JJ Khaira.

Anton Lander

  • Year One AHL 14gp, 1-4-5 .357
  • Year Two AHL 47gp, 9-11-20 .426
  • Year Three 46gp, 18-34-52 1.13

Lander had a strange development curve, but that wasn’t his fault—the Oilers kept him in the NHL in his first year despite a glaring need to develop offensively in the minors. I don’t know that Anton Lander was ever going to be a substantial player, but his handling by the Oilers did not help his cause.

Tyler Pitlick (maybe)

  • Year One 62gp, 7-16-23 .371
  • Year Two 44gp, 3-7-10 .227
  • Year Three 39gp, 8-14-22 .564

He could not stay healthy, and did not reach .500/points-per-game (which seems to be a line in the sand) until year three Both player and organization were patient and it may work out despite the injury delay.

Jujhar Khaira (maybe)

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Year One 51gp, 4-6-10 .196
  • Year Two 49gp, 10-17-27 .551
  • Year Three 3gp, 4-1-5 1.67

Strong progress over three seasons, although he has just started his final year of the entry-level contract. There are similarities between Khaira and a few players on this list, in that it takes a period of time during the three pro seasons to find the range offensively.


Names like Kyle Brodziak and Jarret Stoll are interesting when talking about Jujhar Khaira for two reasons. First, these capable NHL players did take some time to develop, including a stop in the AHL. Second, the Oilers gave up on both men too early, sending away productive seasons for draft picks and the promise of a new tomorrow.

Jujhar Khaira may be Brad Winchester, or something else. The only thing we can say for sure is that he is nearing an NHL shot. Edmonton drafted him and earned the right to his productive seasons, and based on current intel should probably make room this or next year for a solid if unspectacular talent.

  • Dan 1919

    Left shooting depth: Khaira and Caggiula (both centre)

    Right Shooting depth: Slepyshev

    LeftD depth: Davidson

    RightD depth: Benning

    So this is what a real NHL team looks like… Oilers Domination to Follow?

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ….^with size, speed and toughness and with potentially some NHL scoring abilities down the road.

      he and Slepyshev and Davidson were pretty damn good mid to late round picks!

    • Jakethesnail

      If that’s what he is so be it but I think there is more. At the very least he will play third line minutes. He showed great attitude and character here last year.

    • That McLellan put in the first line on the Oilers during a decently successful stretch sans McDavid….?

      There were flashes of what could be with Khaira, but his performance petered off during his stint in Edmonton. He didn’t last on that 1st line but it was warranted for a time.

      Apart from his scoring, he seems to be a presence on the ice. He’s mean. He crashes the net. He’s aggressive.

      He seems like the perfect guy to have in case Maroon, Kassian, or Lucic gets hurt. If Looch is out, God forbid, Maroon moves up and Khaira takes 3rd line responsibilities.

    • T Ambrosini

      LOL… Agree completely!

      He was a guest on a sports talk radio station in San Francisco last week. The host asked him about the fast start by the Oilers and his reply was something like “They are off to a great start but… They are a young team” (with cynical implied thought that a crash is inevitable). Then he started to drone on and on about how great the Sharks are.

      I get it… He was the Sharks color analyst for several seasons and an assistant coach there in the 90’s. He is one of that station’s “go to guys” for hockey talk. Nonetheless, I want to puke when he leg-humps a team that doesn’t pay him any longer and has dismissive comments regarding the team that does sign his paycheck. Oilers deserve better PR representation away from Edmonton.

  • Arminius

    He’s a great story as he is the 3rd Punjabi player to play in the NHL (The Hockey News Nov 2015), a hero to millions and has exceptional attitude and character as was mentioned.

    Unfortunately he’s just not that good of a player and I doubt he’ll get much NHL time at all in his career. As good a feel good story as he is I’ll say he plays no more than 50 games. Wish him all the best though

    • Joy S. Lee

      I’m curious… who were the other two Punjabi players?

      I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Punjabi hockey fans in the stands across the league, so yes, it would be nice to see a few more feel-good Canada/US immigrant success stories to carry that momentum forward.

      As for Khaira, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m not so sure which player you’ve been watching. I’ve seen nothing to suggest he cannot succeed at the NHL level, particularly as a checker. He skates well. Certainly you can’t argue his size. He’s presently showing scoring ability in the AHL… who are you, exactly, to say he can’t at the very least replicate some of that in The Show? Have you been watching all of the Condors’ games over the last couple of years?

  • I think that Versteeg not signing was actually a blessing to the Oil. Pit, Shlep and JJ are all there or nearly on the verge of contributing nicely at low cost to the Oil.. If we sign Versteeg, or pickup a waiver guy, our guys stay in the minors. Hopefully JJ gets a chance soon, with his size I see him being extremely effective on the cycle.

  • camdog

    Eventually the Oilers are going to have a forward come along just like Davidson did last season. It has to happen eventually. I think it could be Jujhar Khaira. He had a slow start to the season in training camp, but his game in picking up.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    “the Oilers gave up on both men too early, sending away productive seasons for draft picks and the promise of a new tomorrow.”

    Didn’t the Oilers trade Stoll and Greene for an established NHL defenseman who would help on the PP? Seems like the kind of deal posters here would kill to see repeated.

  • Moe Sizzlack

    Oilers Domination to follow” may very well damn be a curse itself …

    Ever since numb nuts quit putting it on everything he typed we been WINNING ! Lol

    • Spydyr

      Yeah, after a decade of losing putting that on every post was a bit much.

      I hope us long suffering Oiler fans can now win with dignity and not turn into entitled, arrogant Canuck fans.

  • Moe Sizzlack

    Oilers Domination to follow” may very well damn be a curse itself …

    Ever since numb nuts quit putting it on everything he typed we been WINNING ! Lol

  • Jakethesnail

    I think McLellen will find a role for JJ . It looks as though McLellen is able to identify what role a player can best succeed in . Look at how Lander is being used. No one is crying about his lack of goal scoring. He has been great on the dot and is getting the puck deep and grinding it out with the other fourth line guys.
    Every good team has guys that play within their role and do it well.
    In the past it was Hunter ,Hughes,Lumley.
    He will do the same with Khaira.

    • Arminius

      No one is crying about his lack of goal scoring because most Oiler fans have resigned themselves to the fact Lander will always be a 40th overall who excels in the minor leagues but can’t put it together in the NHL.
      83 some points in his last 75 AHL games as opposed to 7 points in his last 68 NHL games?
      If you’re not upset at that lack of scoring by a upper 2nd round “skilled Swede” it’s because you’ve resigned yourself to the fact he’ll never be able to put it together in the Show

      • Oilerchild77

        And your point is…

        Look dude, we’re all aware that some picks work out and some don’t. In the case of the previous Oilers management, very few did because their scouting stunk more than an open landfill on a hot summer day.

        But if I were you, I would be more concerned about players like Deryk Engelland playing in your top 4 and Versteeg on your top forward line for a lack of any better options than how well the Oilers’ 13th and 14th forwards are doing.

      • Boom or Bust

        Keep in mind everyone that this is a Calgary flames troll…he has no credibility and often trolls his own flames nation site and stirs up trouble there…

  • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

    If JJ continues to progress he might be the kind of forward who can provide some good value for cap$ that will be very important in a couple of years.

  • Glass

    Khaira always looked like a player to me. I think he does everything well (skates well for his size, is mean, actually has smooth hands). I think we’ll see Hendricks get pushed out of the lineup by one of Khaira/Lander/Pakarinen (Pitlick earned a spot imo).

    Which is less likely at the deadline because if we are on track to make the playoffs I want Hendricks around.