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Trend of size continues with Oilers' selection of Khaira

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Pittsburgh, PA - The Edmonton Oilers continued their trend of taking big bodies up front when they selected Surrey, B.C.'s Jujhar Khaira in the third round, 63rd overall.

"Today was a good day. We talked yesterday how with the elite skill we have, we wanted to have some size that potentially could play with some of our more profile people," said GM Steve Tambellini following the second day of the draft.

"We talked about how do we get these people. Once in awhile you may make a trade to get size that has the skill to play in your top six or nine. But more often than not, you have to draft these people and develop them. That was a major goal of ours coming into this draft and we think we accomplished that."

Khaira certainly brings size to the Oilers, standing at 6'3" and weighing 195 pounds. He has an offensive flair to his game as well, putting up 29 goals and 79 points in 54 games for the BCHL's Prince George Spruce Kings last season.

"I'm a power forward, play a two-way game. I'm really good below the goal line in the offensive zone and playing in the slot," said an excited Khaira.

It's that area down low that's so valuable and, before today's draft choices, also lacking in the Edmonton system.

"I read the newspapers too and they say we've got to get a little bigger," joked head scout Stu MacGregor. "And that's what we're trying to do, add some size to your forwards so that you can be strong in front of the net. The game seems to be played within that 10 foot area. We have lots of skill so let's surround them with guys who can compete and help them get the puck, open up some space for them."

Khaira was quick to say how excited he was to be going to Edmonton, a team which employs his favourite player in the NHL.

"It feels great. They're a great team. My favourite player is on that team -- Taylor Hall - and watching Hopkins where I grew up," he said. "I can't describe the feeling right now. It's great."

He added that he had a good feeling about Edmonton based on past discussions with the club.

"The interviews at the combine, I had a really good feeling, really good interview with them. I'm really glad that Edmonton did pick me."

Positionally, Khaira is versatile up front and can play either on the wing or down the middle.

"Whatever the best fit for me on the team. I can play left wing or centre. I played both those positions with Prince George."

Recently, Khaira's WHL rights were traded to the Everett Silvertips but he has committed to play college hockey for Michigan Tech next season and the likelihood is that he will do just that.

"Right now, the route is college but I'll talk to Edmonton and decide from there," Khaira stated.

MacGregor added that the team will not stand in the way of Khaira if he does indeed feel the college route is the best one to take.

"I don't think it's going to matter. He's going to need a couple years no matter what. I don't think he's even grown into his body yet. He'll continue to develop physically," the head scout began.

"I'm always of the belief that if you've chosen a path, take that path. Don't waver back and forth unless the path you've tried isn't working. We'll have some conversation with him but I just believe that you should continue in the phase you're looking at because that's what your best interests are and that's what you believe in. I suggest, continue what you're doing."

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