It’s been a pretty remarkable couple of weeks for the Silvertips, and that continued today with confirmation that 19-year-old power forward Jujhar Khaira will attend Everett’s training camp, which begins next Thursday.
Khaira’s story has been well documented. Everett acquired his rights during the 2012 bantam draft. He was then a third-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2012 NHL draft. He chose the NCAA over Everett and had a good freshman season at Michigan Tech in 2012-13, and was expected to return for his sophomore campaign. However, he signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers, thus surrendering his NCAA eligibility. That put him back on Everett’s radar.
Well, now it’s looking inevitable that Khaira will be suiting up for the Tips this season. Not only will he be attending training camp in Everett, his potential destinations have narrowed. It was originally thought Khaira, because he was an NCAA player, was eligible to play professionally in the minors at 19. However, he wasn’t actually drafted out of the NCAA, he was drafted following his season with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. According to Tips general manager Garry Davidson, the Canadian junior A leagues are subject to the same rules as major junior, meaning players drafted from the BCHL aren’t eligible for the minors until they’re 20. Therefore, the only places Khaira can play this season are Edmonton or Everett.
However, it’s not a 100-percent certainty Khaira will end up with the Tips. After training camp Khaira will be joining Edmonton’s entry in the Young Stars Tournament on Sept. 5-9 in Penticton, B.C., and then will go to training camp with the Oilers with the intent of making the team. But if he doesn’t — and he’s considered a longshot — he’ll be headed back to Everett.
If Khaira ends up in Everett, the Tips get a potential major impact player. The Surrey, B.C., native is big (6-foot-3) and skilled (79 points in 54 games with the Spruce Kings as a 17-year-old, 25 points in 37 games with Michigan Tech as an 18-year-old). In all likelihood he’d be a first-line player.
It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks for the Tips. First, there was the news that both of Everett’s picks in the import draft, Finnish forward Waltteri Hopponen and Russian forward Ivan Nikolishin, would be reporting to camp. Nikolishin, who’s considered a potential top-two round pick in next year’s NHL draft, was a surprise. Now Khaira can be added to the equation. Everett’s big weakness last season was scoring goals. That weakness may have just been addressed big time.