At 25 years old, Jujhar Khaira has quietly become one of the longest-tenured Edmonton Oilers.
And at 25 years old, Jujhair Khaira is exactly what he is — a fourth-line checking forward who is exceptional on the penalty kill.
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL draft, Khaira didn’t find himself a regular in the Oilers lineup until the 2017-18 season when he etched out a full-time role.
That year, he scored 21 points in 69 games, but since has seen his offensive numbers drop every season. In 2018-19, he scored 18 points in 60 games and this year, he only mustered 10 points in 64 games.
His time on ice hasn’t changed over time, averaging about 12:30 a night, but the raw numbers aren’t quite there. Analytically, Khaira doesn’t have very much going for him at 5v5. He bleeds shots, has a poor goals rate all mixed in with a very poor PDO of 95.6 — nearly five points below average.
Look, there’s not a lot of good things to say about Khaira’s 5v5 game besides he’s a physical presence and won more faceoff than he lost. There’s not much good to say about that aspect of his game.
However, where Khaira struggled mightily at 5v5, he was a showstopper on the Oilers penalty kill. Edmonton’s PK this year was second in the league at 84.4 percent and Khaira was a huge, huge part of it.
He spent 100 minutes killing penalties this year, fourth-most amongst all Oilers, and posted some of the best PK numbers in the league. For comparison, there were a total of 94 forward who played over 100 PK minutes and Khaira ranked among the top in the nearly all important categories.
In shot attempts against per 60, Khaira’s 42.49 ranked seventh. His 2.39 goals against per 60 was the top among the forward group (Cedric Paquette was second at 2.71 and Sebastian Aho was third at 3.44). His high danger goals against was again top among the group at .06 (Brandon Sutter was second at 1.16).
So while Khaira left much to desire at 5v5, he truly hit it out of the park when it came to killing penalties and made his $1.2-million salary.
As we turn the corner and look towards the Oilers’ first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Khaira might be able to take advantage of a poor bottom-six forward group Chicago has at 5v5. He, alongside likely linemates in James Neal and Alex Chiasson, should be able to fare better when it comes to taking on that group.
Much like he did in the regular season, you can expect to see Khaira on the penalty kill going against Chicago’s power play that was the fourth-worst in the league.
All things considering, I’d imagine he’ll see around the 12:30 in icetime he did this year and probably less in tight games. That should be the case so long as the Oilers are in the playoffs.
On Twitter: @zjlaing