This is Jujhar Khaira. For the first time in his pro career, he will be eligible for waivers this fall as the Oilers (and other NHL teams) cut down to their final 23-man rosters. I believe Khaira will make the big club, he’s a big man who plays a rugged game and his offensive output improved over three AHL seasons. There may come a time when the organization has to make a decision on Khaira but there’s a good chance Todd McLelland and Peter Chiarelli see the big forward as a legit option for this roster well into the future.
There are decisions in all 31 NHL cities just like the one above that will involve dozens of waiver eligible players this fall. A few of them should have enough value to be considered for pickup. Here’s my list.
- L Josh Leivo, Toronto Maple Leafs. The youth in Toronto gets a lot of hype but it’s deserved. Men like Josh Leivo are going to lose their jobs to bona fide talents, leaving an astute NHL team the opportunity to slide in and make a trade of waiver claim. Leivo has played 41 NHL games (half a season) and has scored nine goals and 18 points. He’s done it while averaging 11 minutes a night! Source
- RD Tim Heed, San Jose Sharks. He ripped up the AHL last season (55gp, 14-42-56) after spending several seasons as a regular in the Swedish elite league. He’s 26, I fully expect the Sharks to play him in the NHL this season but Heed is waiver eligible and someone (Oilers or anyone) should take this guy and put him on the power play. Cheap like borscht, too, his contract is $650,000.
- RD Ryan Sproul, Detroit Red Wings. He spent the entire year on Detroit’s roster but ran into injury issues and played just 27 games. He’s a big (6.04, 211) defenseman and the injury (ACL) may keep him on IR to begin the year.
- R Justin Auger, Los Angeles Kings. If you look at the boxcars, Auger isn’t going to raise an eyebrow. However, the big winger (6.07, 229) has an interesting AHL resume. I don’t think the Oilers have room for him but I’ll be interested to see if another NHL team takes a chance on an intriguing player.
- L Hunter Shinkaruk, Calgary Flames. Calgary’s procurement system is producing good players at every turn, perhaps one of the reasons we don’t hear much about Shinkaruk. He was drafted and then traded by Vancouver but that doesn’t mean he can’t play. Shinkaruk’s 12 goals and 12 first assists give him a strong primary scoring number. I think he might surprise.
- L Charles Hudon, Montreal Canadiens. There was a time when the idea of exposing a talented French Canadian skill forward to waivers would be unthinkable, but Montreal management no longer worries over trivialities. Too bad, in this case, Hudon is talented if small winger who could find an NHL home via waivers.
- RD Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders. If I live to be 1,000 I will not understand the New York Islanders. The organization seems to use a ‘planned fail’ for prospects in order to curtail second contract cap numbers. Strange. I expect Pulock will make the roster but they work in mysterious ways in Brooklyn.
Khaira makes this Oilers team without a throw in my opinion, NHL teams would not hesitate to grab him if available on the waiver wire. I’m intrigued by names like Heed and Pulock, who would address a need and who are young enough to grow with the McDavid Oilers.