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T-Birds news and notes: Sahvan Khaira signs with Seattle


Seattle’s Shea Theodore will be in camp with Hockey Canada this summer (Thunderbirds photo)

A month after learning that they were losing 2013 first round draft pick Dante Fabbro to the BCHL, the Thunderbirds have signed another defenseman from the same draft class. Seattle announced on Monday afternoon that they had signed Sahvan Khaira to a standard WHL Player Agreement.

Khaira is the younger brother of former Everett Silvertips forward Jujhar Khaira and is just as big. Sahvan is listed at 6’1″ and 211 pounds and is only 16-years-old. He attended training camp last fall with Seattle and was very impressive, displaying a highly-skilled game from the back end.

He was selected in the ninth round of the draft last year and spent the season playing for the Okanagan Hockey Academy, where he scored two goals and added 20 assists in 28 games played. Khaira’s brother chose the NCAA route initially, before joining Everett last season, and there was some speculation that Sahvan might follow that route. Seattle won’t have to worry about that now as Khaira will be in camp again this fall and in the mix on the T-Birds blue line.

This signing certainly softens the blow of not having Fabbro in the fold for next year and Khaira will join a crowded, and deep, blue line for Seattle next year.

Shea Theodore joins Canadian development camp

A few hours before Seattle announced Khaira’s signing, there was other defenseman news. Hockey Canada released their roster for their summer development camp and Seattle’s Shea Theodore was on it. This development camp is the first step for Team Canada in selecting their team for the 2015 World Junior Championships. This year’s World Junior Championships will be held in both Montreal and Toronto and is nearly as big as the Stanley Cup in Canada.

Theodore joins a pretty impressive list of CHL players that will be evaluated and most likely invited to Hockey Canada’s camp just prior to the tournament starting. If Theodore is selected to the team it will not be the first time he has donned the Canadian sweater. The Anaheim Ducks prospect represented his country in 2012 at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic.

Other U.S. Division players invited to the camp include Tri City’s Eric Comrie and Portland’s Nic Petan. In total the WHL had 15 players selected for the camp.

Western Conference coaching shake up

Monday was a busy day in the WHL as one of the league’s most successful coaches announced he is moving on. Ryan Huska is leaving the Kelowna Rockets to coach the Adirondak Flames of the AHL. Adirondak is the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames and it should come as no surprise that Huska was coveted by pro hockey organizations.

As Kelowna’s head man since 2007 Huska has won over 300 games, won a WHL Championship and never once had a team finish below .500. He leaves a very strong roster in the hands of long time assistant Dan Lambert, who will take over behind the Rockets bench.

There was some other interesting coaching news on Monday as TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that the Pittsburgh Penguins considered Portland’s head coach Mike Johnston as a ‘strong candidate’ for their vacant head coaching job. Johnston, who has a history in the NHL as an assistant, had met with the Vancouver Canucks regarding their coaching job earlier in the off season. Vancouver announced on Monday that they have hired former Medicine Hat Tigers head coach Willie Desjardins.

WHL schedule out June 25th

The T-Birds previously had announced that they would open their home schedule on September 19th against the Everett Silvertips, a night after opening the season in Portland. On Wednesday we will see the remainder of the team’s schedule as the league will announce the full WHL schedule. When will Seattle have their Eastern swing this year?

Follow Andrew Eide on Twitter @andyeide