Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Someone drafted outside the first round is a gem

No, this post isn’t about Brandon Davidson — we’ve known for a while that the Oilers really did find a hidden gem in him during the sixth round of the 2010 draft. But while we’re chatting about Davidson, let me just quote that old saying, “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.” Well, Brandon must be ours, because he came back and will hopefully be sticking around. Have you figured out who I’m rambling about yet? It’s Jujhar Khaira, who was taken with the 63rd selection in the third round at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft!

A Junior A stud

Khaira planned to go the college route after being passed over at the bantam draft. He played Junior A Hockey with the Prince George Spruce Kings in the BCHL during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons.

As a 16-year-old rookie in the BCHL, Khaira was able to rack up 42 points (10G, 32A) in 58 games played, which was good enough to tie for second in points on the team. The next season as a 17-year-old, he improved his numbers in fewer games played, putting up 79 points (29G,50A) in 54 games.

The Oilers took note and jumped at the chance to draft Jujhar ahead of players like Jimmy Vesey, Esa Lindell, Shayne Gostibehere, Matt Murray and Colton Parayko. Those players were all taken later in the third round.

A change in development

Feb 7, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Christian Folin (5) and Edmonton Oilers left wing Jujhar Khaira (16) fight in the first period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Khaira only played one season at Michigan Tech during 2012-1013, where he scored 25 points (6G,19A) in 25 games. He then gave up his final three years of eligibility to sign a contract with the Oilers. At that point, no one knew what the Oilers plans were for their centreman for the upcoming season — he could have either been assigned to the AHL Oklahoma City Barons or joined a CHL club. The Oilers went with the latter and had him play with the Everett Silvertips, who owned his major junior rights.

The Surrey native fared well in his only season in the WHL, on a team that featured future top NHL prospects Noah Juulsen and Micro Mueller, and fellow Oiler Ben Betker. He played top minutes in 59 games during 2013-2014, and potted 43 points (16G, 27A). The Oilers then had him finish out the season in the AHL with Oklahoma, where he played nine games, including three in the playoffs where he had a lone goal.

The next season Kharia made the jump to the AHL full-time with the Barons. He was finally filling out that 6’3 frame like the Oilers had hoped he would. Jujhar only had 10 points (4G,6A) over 51 games, but he was finally developing a mean streak (63 PIMs).

Kharia returned for the 2015-2016 season just as mean and hungrier for points. He cemented himself as a big body who could chip in every one in a while, the Oilers took notice, and they called him up to the big club for the first time. There was a backlog at the bottom six and Jujhar was only able to stick around 15 games where he was -2, with two goals, and 13 assists.

Coasting along

Jujhar earned another call-up to the Oilers in January of last season. He displayed all of the tendencies that we wanted from him — a gritty, big bodied man who wasn’t afraid to get into the corners — yes, that’s what she said, that’s what I said. Unfortunately, after missing time due to an injury, it almost appeared as if he was coasting his way through. Maybe it was due to injury, or maybe he felt he had cemented his spot in the lineup.

Making a case

Jujhar entered this season ready to claim his spot in the bottom six, and while this season has been bumpy for the team all around, Kharia seems to be getting better every game. Off the ice, Kharia has taken a big step in the community, he’s the Oilers ambassador for the NHL’s Hockey Is For Everyone campaign.

While I’m not saying Jujhar has been perfect this season (no Oiler has been), Jujhar has been a bright spot. In 46 games played this year he has 17 points (9G,8A) and 31 PIM’s, he can lay a mean hit or drop the mitts when needed. He’s also discovered his scoring touch — the kid can fire a nice wrister!

It’s exciting to see a player develop right from the draft, especially since we haven’t seen many outside the first round do that. What’s your favourite Jujhar Khaira moment from this season? Let me know your thoughts below!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    wasn’t sure about the pick at the time, given the lack of success we had had with BCHL picks, and i was beginning to wonder if he would ever show his offensive side but he’s now showing it and he’s becoming one of my favourite Oiler players!

  • Beer

    Character got him this far. I personally thought at best a really good 3rd line C in his draft year if developed properly. I am not sure now. Character and determination are a good thing.

    • crabman

      Sure I would rather Parayko but at least Khaira looks like he is gonna have a career. For every Parayko there’s a Tim Bozon (#64) or a Troy Bourke (#72) same draft. Both in the ECHL like so many 3rd rounders turn out. You can look at any draft and find gems in every round you wish your team picked instead. I’m happy we got a real player even if he isn’t tghe best out of his round.

  • kelvjn

    stick around 15 games where he was -2, with two goals, and 13 assists.

    13PIM. 2 goals 13 assists in 15 games is 1.0 ppg, 7 million men kind of production rate.

  • jultz=2cups!😂😂

    Hahahahaha. Classic oilersnation! Getting excited about players who’s ceilings are 3rd-4th lines. And Brandon Davidson is a “gem”?? Hahahahaha. Guy has been in the league for 5+ years now and doesn’t play every night. Lol the only teams he plays on are bad ones. A real “gem” for sure!! Don’t get me wrong. I like Davey and love khaira but calling them gems?? 😂😂🤣

      • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

        Ummm, the article never said he was Lucic. Lucic is slow and doesn’t use his size effectively. JJ is faster and actually HITS some people.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          right, JJ is much more fleet of foot. and there is some truth to what’s being said, Oiler fans have been starved for anyone in the later rounds that can actually produce and not just be bottom pairing d-men or 3rd or 4th line players that we tend to consider Khaira, Rieder, Pitlick and Davidson as “wins” for us after the 1st round. we need to start demanding this team do a whole lot better at the draft table than that !!

        • jultz=2cups!😂😂

          I never said that the article said that. I’m just saying that jj will never be as good as Lucic, who has been THE premier power forward in the league for the last 10 years. So while you guys are going ga ga over a potential 3rd liner, I’m giving respect to Lucic who you guys hate. And I look forward to rubbing all your guys faces in it, when the oil turn this ship around next year.

        • jultz=2cups!😂😂

          And seriously. Lucic-186 hits. Khaira-84 hits. Tell me more about who actually hits people….. do some research before you spout off. Lucic is 3rd in the league in hits. Classic oilersnation. 🤣😂🤣😂

          • Leichs

            Probably because Lucic spends the entire game chasing people around. Not hard to hit people when the puck is never on your stick. What else is there for him to do. JJ can play.

          • CMG30

            Hmmm, pointless research eh? Well Lucic has a 6M cap hit, That means, as of now, we’re paying him $32,258 per hit. By the same metric, JK only costs us $10,416 per hit. Both these players have 9 goals so far, or $666,667 per goal vs $97,222. But lets not forget that one of these two spends almost all their on-ice time with either McDavid or LD… Frankly, we’d be better off with 3 Jujars and no Lucic’s.

            Lucic may have set the standard a few years ago, but it’s starting to look like he’s reached his best before date. The other aspect that Lucic was brought in for was his ‘leadership’. Well, one of these two players disappears from the ice for games at a time, while the other is out there busting his behind every shift. I know which one I’d want as my team mate. If you’d prefer a guy coasting on reputation for yours, well go for it.

          • The Future Never Comes

            Your family never gave you attention, so you lash out to get some. It’s okay lil fellow just needs a hug and someone to listen. Try a therapist instead of Oilersnation.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            I just did look at the stats… Lucic is 4th in scoring (30pts), on a bad team with little to no PP…
            That’s worth 6 mil at this point of the season in todays NHL.
            Not to mention the other aspects he brings to the team…
            I do not care what others think, I will not sway my thinking based on what everyone’s opinion is.
            I (and I think most of us) know enough about the game to form our own opinions…
            Too many Lemming Fans in Oiler Nation I notice…
            They have ran really good players out of town over the years…

        • crabman

          @Oilers G, Lucic is top 10 in hits. He has his flaws but not hitting isn’t one of them. Complaining about Lucic not hitting enough is like saying Russell needs to block more shots.

    • crabman

      considering the poor drafting history outside the 1st round getting an everyday(now) 3rd or 4th line forward in the 3rd round and a defenceman capable of playing everyday in the 6th round those are gems. Certainly not homeruns which we could really use but good picks. We have picked high in both 1st and 2nd rounds for so long that these Depth players in late rounds to fill out the rosters the cheap should be all we need.
      And considering the season the Oilers are having It’s nice to taske a break from the bad news and have an article pointing out something going well.

    • ET

      You really need to move out of your Mother’s basement pal and get a real life. You don’t even seem like an Oiler fan to me yet you post on this site pretty much every day and for every article. You must have a pretty sad life and I do feel some empathy for you.

  • Serious Gord

    I guess the authors definition of a gem and my definition differ.

    Khaira is fun to watch at times and likely will be a serviceable 3 or more likely 4 line centre on a cup competitive team.

    He is the exception that probably bed the rule that the oilers org is possibly the worse scouting/drafting team of the past 25 years.

    And Davidson is a gem? Cubic zirconia or garnet (look it up) more like. Barely nhl capable even on a really bad team.

    • Burns14

      I think Davidson could be considered a ‘gem’ considering what team drafted him and where they did in the draft. An Oilers 6th round draft pick? Might as well pack your bags for Europe.

    • ed from edmonton

      Ant time you get an NHL player with a 3rd round pick you have beaten the odds. Only about 1 in 4, 3rd rounders play more than 100 NHL games and about 50% never play an NHL game. The author may have been overstating her case calling him a gem, but it looks like this pick is working out well.,

    • ed from edmonton

      A study was done by a guy from the Wharton School of business at the Penn U looking at NHL drafting efficiency from 2000 through 2010. You can google it if you want. He rated the Oil about 20th, with the Sabres top and the Lightning last. His primary conclusion was, however, that over thr period studied that no team had a significant advantage, or disadvantage, it all evened out. Seems to give crdence to the theory that drafting 18 years olds is a crap shoot.

      • IRONman

        If you look at hockeydb, outside of the first round very few players last 200 games. Davey is vital for the Cap hell the oilers are in. Jj does his roll well. It is going to be interesting to see how the oilers turn this ship around.

    • Paige Bednorz

      When I say gem, I don’t mean a star player. I’m saying that amongst all of the players taken at the draft, we were able to pick one and develop him into an NHL player. It’s never a guaranteed thing that they’re going to be a slam dunk.

  • ubermiguel

    Khaira’s a win as a 3rd round pick, the type of draft pick the Oilers need. But I’m more interested in what so many teams missed about Gostisbehere, he’s putting up first rounder numbers, that’s a 3rd round home run right there.

  • btrain

    Happy to see JJ being recognized as a bright spot. He looks like he is coming along nicely and brings a lot of elements that will earn him praise amongst this blue color fan base. I hope he is given some opportunity down the stretch to replace Maroon on the top line (after deadline), just to see how he does. However, I still like the idea of auditioning him, as much as possible, as the primary 3rd line center who can specialize on the PK. His combination of grit, size, speed, and skill make him an intriguing candidate for this role and it could allow the Oil to inflate their top 6 a bit when RNH is back and play hardball with Strome if they want to resign him.

  • I’ve been a fan of Khaira as soon as he was getting glimpses a few seasons ago. I said he’d be the Hendricks replacement and although not the same locker room leadership, on the ice, he’s scoring, throwing punches, and taking faceoffs. He’s an ideal 4th line centreman at the moment, but he could become a reliable 3rd line guy if he isn’t already. He skates well, hits, punches, scores, has a good attitude, and a good up curve in improvement.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Yeah, Khaira’s a bright spot. No idea what his ceiling is or if he’s already hit it, but it’s nice to see a player whom the Oilers drafted and developed the “right way” make it up to the big team.

  • OilersBro

    Favourite JJ moment was when he started finding his scoring touch and consistency with the game against Vegas where the Oil won 8-2. I think it was a nasty 2 on 1 pass on the PK to Klefbom where I realized that this guy is big, fast, and actually has a soft set of hands.

  • oilredemption

    Everyone including myself freak out about the Reinhart deal but I will propose this-

    Mitchell Stephens + Matt Barzal became Griffen Reinhart for argument sake (cringe)
    But then we basically flipped Reinhart for Khaira in the expansion draft. If we would have kept the picks and selected Stephens and Barzal they would have been protected which would have left our only value player in Khaira exposed and surely Vegas would have drafted/selected him. I mean at least there is a slim silver lining to the deal.