Welcome to the 2020-21 season review and 2021-22 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season and previewing the 2021-22 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.
Sail on, Jujhar.
One of the longest-serving members of the Oilers, Khaira was lost in free agency inking a one-year deal in Chicago. His journey to being a full-time NHL’er is nothing short of a tremendous success story.
A native of Surrey, B.C., Khaira is one of three persons of Punjabi Indian descent to play in the NHL after Robin Bawa and Manny Malholtra. Khaira was drafted by the Oilers in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft out of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings following a season that saw him put up 29 goals and 79 points in 54 games.
The following year he played with Michigan Tech in the NCAA before leaving college to play a year with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. Then, in 2014-15, he broke into the pros. Khaira largely was up and down between the AHL and NHL until the 2017-18 season when he won a full-time job with the Oilers.
In his first two full time seasons, he chipped in some solid depth offence scoring 39 points in 129 games, but that dried up in 2019-20 and 2020-21 when he scored 21 points in 104 games.
And into last year, he had his struggles. While one of the best penalty killers in the NHL, Khaira wasn’t able to muster much at 5×5 play.
While his 5×5 points per hour was 1.67 — good enough for third on the team — the Oilers were consistently caved in when he was on the ice. At 5×5 and of 18 eligible forwards last year, the Oilers controlled only 43.68 percent of the shot attempts (14th), 46.43 percent of the goal (9th) and 40.88 percent of the expected goals (16th).
In all situations, he only won 45.2 of his faceoffs. He was good in some areas, like the penalty kill, but Khaira was an unfortunate liability on the ice and it’s not a major surprise the club moved on from him.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed not only his great story, but his play, too. Khaira consistently stood up for teammates never shying to drop the mitts and was well-liked within the organization.
Khaira will get a shot in Chicago to turn his 5×5 play around, while still being a strong contributor on the penalty kill.