Silvertips defenseman Sahvan Khaira (right) skates during a training-camp practice on Aug. 23, 2018, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Silvertips defenseman Sahvan Khaira (right) skates during a training-camp practice on Aug. 23, 2018, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Khaira acquisition shows Silvertips are playing to win

The addition of the defender in the offseason says Everett believes, despite losses, it can contend again.

EVERETT — Sahvan Khaira has a lot of odd connections to the Everett Silvertips.

When Khaira was 15 years old, his older brother Jujhar starred for Everett. For a year-and-a-half Khaira did regular battle against the Tips while he played for Everett’s nearest rival, the Seattle Thunderbirds. Then in May he helped the Swift Current Broncos defeat the Tips in the WHL championship series.

So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Khaira felt immediately at home upon arriving in Everett.

Khaira is Everett’s shiny new toy, as the 20-year-old defenseman arrived via offseason trade with Swift Current. And while his time with the team has been brief thus far — training camp began Thursday and concludes Sunday with the annual Green vs. Grey game — the forest green and white jersey already fits like a favorite pair of sneakers.

“It’s been great,” Khaira said about his first impression of being a Tip. “Everyone has been super welcoming. I already feel like I’m at home here, so I’m excited to get things going.”

Khaira, who hails from just across the border in Surrey, B.C., is entering his fifth full season in the WHL. Last season the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder had six goals, 20 assists and a team-leading 111 penalty minutes in 65 games with the Broncos, adding two goals and five assists in 26 playoff appearances.

Everett acquired Khaira on July 30 in exchange for center Ethan O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft, and the Tips are thrilled to be adding Khaira to the lineup.

“Obviously we got to play him in the Swift Current series,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “He brings that size, the stability, calmness, heaviness and toughness back there. You can see, we’re not a team that’s built with a lot of big players. Last year we picked up Ondrej Vala to fill that role, and I see Sahvan coming in to play the same role, playing a lot of minutes and doing a really good job in the D-zone, making a lot of space out there for him and his teammates.

“I can’t tell you enough about my first encounter with him,” Williams continued. “He’s such a polite and well-mannered person, and I heard his brother was just the same when he was here. We definitely hit a home run in terms of what he can bring on the ice, and what his character brings off the ice as well.”

Khaira has some large family footsteps to follow. His brother Jujhar was a power forward for Everett during the 2013-14 season, notching 16 goals and 27 assists in 59 games. He’s since become a regular with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

Khaira didn’t get to see his brother play with the Tips that much, since he spent that year away from home playing midget hockey for the Kelowna, B.C.-based Okanagan Hockey Academy. But he saw enough then, as well as during the WHL finals, to know Everett was a place where he could picture himself playing.

“I noticed they were a team with a lot of strengths, and from then on I was excited, I wanted to try and get over here,” Khaira said.

“(Swift Current) is definitely rebuilding,” Khaira added. “We knew it was coming, we not only lost a lot of guys from last year, but we also lost all three coaches. That was a big thing for me, I respected all three of them and they helped me a lot the two-and-a-half years I was there. It was going to be a fresh start regardless, so I kind of wanted to be closer to home for my last year of junior hockey.”

Yet bringing Khaira to Everett wasn’t just a case of granting his wish to play closer to home. It was also an indication that the Silvertips believe, despite significant player and staff losses, they can contend again.

Gone is all-everything goaltender Carter Hart. So, too, the dynamic overage trio of Kevin Davis, Patrick Bajkov and Matt Fonteyne, as well as iconic assistant coach Mitch Love. The general consensus is that Everett will fall back into the pack this season.

But the Tips have a quality group of returning 19-year-olds, a strong faith in Dustin Wolf’s ability to step in for Hart, and a deep and experienced defense. The acquisition of Khaira not only injects another dose of experience, giving Everett perhaps the most veteran blueline in the league, it also served as a signal, both to those inside and outside the organization, that there will be no rebuild in Everett this year. The Tips are playing 2018-19 to win.

“I think there’s no question that’s the way we feel,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson said. “I would think everybody looking at us in the league has to think we have a pretty good returning group. Time will tell who’s right and who’s wrong, but certainly for me it’s a commitment to everybody involved in our organization that we want to contend again.”

Which makes Khaira and the Tips the perfect match, one both parties hopes results in another long playoff run.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

Talk to us

More in Sports

The Shorecrest bench reacts to a missed shot in the final seconds of regular time to send the game against Arlington to overtime on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Arlington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Wave of cancellations wreaking havoc on winter prep sports

‘It’s just been so hard’: Canceled games and program shutdowns have been commonplace for local teams.

Stanwood's Kaeden McGlothin yells after stealing the ball from Mountlake Terrace's Adison Mattix to seal the win for Stanwood on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood pulls out ‘gritty’ win over Mountlake Terrace

The Spartans answered every Mountlake Terrace push in a tense fourth quarter for a 63-62 victory.

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Friday, Jan. 21

Prep results for Friday, Jan. 21: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Chicago State guard Aaliyah Collins, a Glacier Peak High School graduate. (Sebastian Montoya / Chicago State Athletics)
Community roundup: GP grad shines again for Chicago State

Plus, professional bull riding is coming to Everett, former Silvertips are headed to the Olympics and more.

Jackson's Lindyn Solis bowls during a match against Everett on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Jackson, Everett girls bowlers hit the lanes

The Timberwolves brought a 13-1 record into the match with the state tournament fast approaching.

Tucker Molina, right, tries to block a shot by Tony MacArthur during EVCC practice on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
EvCC men’s hoops seeks unprecedented 5th straight North title

After a delayed start to region play, the Trojans begin their quest for another crown on Wednesday.

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Silvertips’ game versus Rockets on Friday postponed

Kelowna is pausing all team activites due to COVID protocols, according to the WHL.

Lake Stevens' Tyler Fouts lifts Glacier Peak's Gil Mossburg during wrestling on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Lake Stevens edges GP in boys wrestling showdown

The Vikings beat the Grizzlies 42-31 in a matchup of two of the best 4A teams in the area.

Most Read