As the Edmonton Oilers travel to Penticton for the Young Stars Tournament, their young prospects are looking to prove their worth at rookie camp.
While players like Ethan Bear and Ziyat Paigin are also in attendance, the most notable name to watch is Kailer Yamamoto. Ever since Edmonton took the Spokane, Washington native 22nd overall in this year’s draft, all eyes have been on him.
A fast, speedy winger, Yamamoto relies on his skating ability, quick hands and vision to create scoring chances. He is able to move quickly and make rapid decisions on the fly, all while being a player that carries his own line. In fact, his skill set alone makes him one of the Oilers’ top right wing prospects, and even a potential dark horse for a roster spot.
In 65 games with the WHL Spokane Chiefs last season, Yamamoto registered 42 goals and 99 points. Despite the Chiefs finishing with a 27-33-8 record as the league’s sixth-worst team, Yamamoto finished sixth in league scoring and managed to be the bright spot in a Chiefs’ season to forget.
Putting on Weight
His only setback is his size; the 5-foot-8 forward is small, and many are unsure how that will translate as he moves up the NHL ranks, or if he will be able to still succeed in the rough-and-tumble league. However, he is putting on weight and is ready to prove his critics wrong.
Edmonton’s rookies underwent medical and fitness testing Thursday before traveling to Penticton, and that’s when Yamamoto told the media that he was putting on weight. At the combine, he weighed in at 146 pounds; he’s now up to 155.
Simply seeing that the 18-year-old is putting on weight just shows his determination and effort when it comes to preparing for the NHL. And Oilers head of player development Scott Howson told reporters that the goal is for Yamamoto to continue putting on weight so he can ready himself for the move to the higher levels.
“We want Kailer to get strong and that’s been the focus [following the draft],” Howson said. “Our fitness guys are all over that, but [more] weight can be a dangerous thing. His game is always going to be about quickness and agility and instinct.”
While the 18-year-old is currently focused on rookie camp, he will also get the opportunity to show what he’s capable of in training camp and through the preseason. And from the looks of it, he will have a lot to show and won’t fail to impress.