FEATURE: Khaira focused on next two years with Orange & Blue
"It's where I want to be and the team I want to play for. It gives me a chance to prove myself for two more years and build off that," said Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira of his new two-year contract
EDMONTON, AB - Somewhere between his training and skating schedule, Jujhar Khaira found some time to ink a new two-year pact with the Edmonton Oilers.
It wasn't a hard decision to make, given it's the organization he was drafted by in 2012 and the organization he's played every single one of his 154 career National Hockey League games with, spending little time as a restricted free agent on Monday's first day of NHL Free Agency.
The Oilers forward has accumulated 15 goals and 42 points over his career in NHL and is set on showing the new members of Oilers management, including Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland and Head Coach Dave Tippett, what he's capable of in the next two years.
"It's where I want to be and the team I want to play for," Khaira said Tuesday via phone. "It gives me a chance to prove myself for two more years and build off that."
After posting 11 goals and 21 points in 69 games in the 2017-18 campaign, the Surrey, BC, product recorded three goals and 15 assists in 60 outings last year. It was a minor drop from his previous totals but on Monday Holland alluded to what Khaira provides the Oilers and why he coveted the 2012 third-rounder.
"You need dimensions," Holland said. "Everybody's not the same size and the same skill set. He's a big guy that brings a different dimension to our hockey club."
The Oilers General Manager also believes the 6-foot-4, 212-pounder can return to the 11-goal form that he achieved in '17-18.
"He had 11 goals two years ago and he had a tough year last year with three goals," Holland continued. "Lots of players in some years don't have very good years statistically. So, we're expecting him to bounce back and be closer to the player he was two years ago."
Khaira is striving for the same. This off-season, the 24-year-old is working with a specialist in Vancouver to improve his durability. Khaira has yet to play more than 69 games in a season and is focusing on injury prevention exercises which will hopefully buck that.
"I'm really focusing on a lot of preparation for avoiding injuries," Khaira said. "A lot of movement stuff. It makes your body stronger in different ways. Not necessarily heavy weights but just understanding my body more."
When he's not doing his dryland training, Khaira's been squeezing in some quality time with fellow Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner. The three skate together and when they're not at the rink, find time to enjoy the summer by remaining active in other ways, which isn't hard to do in beautiful British Columbia.
"I love hanging out with Ryan and Sam," Khaira said. "It's like almost being in the season. Guys you don't mind seeing every day. We even arrange beach days, go play some spike ball and try to be active as much as possible."
Khaira and Co. haven't been focusing too much on the happenings around the League but are slowly seeing their anticipation for the upcoming season rise.
"I talked a lot with Nuge just because we live so close and are close," said Khaira. "I think everybody's excited. Excited for the changes that are happening. Everybody goes into the season with a positive attitude and everybody wants to win.
"We're trying to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to succeed this year."