The Edmonton Oilers got an outstanding prospect in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, taking Kailer Yamamoto 22nd overall.
A native of Spokane, Washington, Yamamoto is a stand-out talent and an impressive right wing. He plays the game with tremendous confidence and is well on his way to a solid pro career.
With the Oilers lacking right wing depth heading into this season, and Yamamoto coming off an impressive year in juniors and a solid development camp, could he push for an immediate spot on the NHL roster?
First off, Yamamoto has just two years of WHL experience but is scoring at a rate of over a point per game. This past season, he finished with 42 goals and 99 points in 65 games. The 18-year-old is a pure goal scorer with an outstanding shot and adds a lot of edge to his game.
Looking at his scouting reports and ability, Yamamoto is a unique and exciting player to watch. Though only 5-foot-8, 147 pounds, he takes good care of the puck and wins battles on the ice, as he is able to knock players off the puck. He can backcheck efficiently and play well at both ends of the rink, and he shows great speed and offensive ability.
The Cutting Edge
The only issue that comes with the young forward is that he is a smaller player, and will likely need to add size and strength if he wants to survive the rough and tumble NHL environment. Still, he is someone who will be a great asset for the team.
Yamamoto definitely has the skill, confidence and maturity to compete for an NHL spot, but he will have to be a standout throughout the preseason and training camp. With Jesse Puljujarvi looking to make the jump to a full-time NHL gig, and the Oilers roster filled with depth players who can play either side of the wing, Yamamoto will have to bring a different edge.
In addition, unless he is much too valuable for the team to let go, Edmonton will not want to rush his development. As evident from players like Nail Yakupov, rushing him could be detrimental to his overall skill.
In the end, Yamamoto will likely end up shining with the team in the preseason and getting a glance of the NHL. However, due to the need to bulk up, and the Oilers already filled-out roster, he will see more time in juniors before making the next step up.