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Oilers Sign Jujhar Khaira

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The third round pick from Prince George goes back to the WHL

Jamie Sabau

Jujhar Khaira signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers earlier today. It's a move that I initially found surprising, but I probably shouldn't have. Khaira was playing with Michigan Tech, and in 2012-13, Michigan Tech was part of the very good WCHA, but with the WCHA losing most of their best hockey programs (Denver, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and others) to the new super-conferences (the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Big Ten Conference). As a result, Michigan Tech went from being an excellent place for Khaira to develop his game to being decidedly inadequate.

So where does he go from here? Because Khaira is coming out of the NCAA, he is eligible to play in the AHL this year, but when you consider that he'll be turning 19 this summer, and that he was a solid but certainly not dominant player with Michigan Tech, a move to the WHL for a year seems likely. Khaira's WHL rights are currently held by the Everett Silvertips who traded for him at the 2012 draft, which should be an excellent fit.

Sometimes, it's hard to know what kind of development a player will receive playing in the WHL, but with the very capable Kevin Constantine coaching in Everett, I'm confident that Khaira will have excellent instruction on play at both ends of the ice. Khaira should also get plenty of ice time in 2013-14 if he's with the Silvertips. The team was very poor last season (last in the U.S. division), and really struggled to generate offense. Khaira will likely get every opportunity to establish himself as the team's top center and be counted on in all situations.

As for his actual potential to make it to the NHL, Khaira actually finished at #12 in the current edition of the Top 25 Under 25, which means that there will have a profile up on him this afternoon. Happy Jujhar Khaira Day!