The Edmonton Oilers dominated in their preseason opener against the Calgary Flames, and Kailer Yamamoto was one of quite a few that shined bright.
Edmonton’s 22nd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft racked up a goal and assist in his preseason debut, and also played an outstanding overall game. He was solid at both ends of the rink, showed great speed and hands and also took good care of the puck. With his overall skill-set and ability, he has the potential to be one of the first-round steals of this draft, and a potential candidate for a roster spot.
In 65 games with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs last season, the 18-year-old winger had 42 goals and 99 points and was a plus-14. Not only that, he finished among the league’s highest scorers, and if he were just a bit bigger, he could have been taken much earlier in the draft, even in the top-10.
Cracking the NHL
Though young, he has tremendous upside and would add a lot to the Oilers roster. First off, Edmonton is in need of more right-wing depth, as well as fast, talented high-energy scorers. Those are factors that Yamamoto brings to the table, and what could potentially help him to crack the NHL roster.
Still, there are some concerns. First off, the 5-foot-8, 153-pound winger is on the smaller side, which concerns some critics. The NHL is a rough-and-tumble league, and it may be hard for a young prospect like him to break through and adapt right away to the toughness that the highest level of hockey has to offer. Not only that, he could stand to put on more size and transition more to the game before being thrown right into NHL action.
However, size is not the most important factor, and it doesn’t take away from his ability. He is still able to move the puck up ice and match up well with his opponents. NOt only that, he is aggressive on the forecheck and communicates well with his teammates. Seeing that chemistry from him, paired with playmaking skill and a solid shot, the NHL shouldn’t be out of the question.
In the end, if the Oilers gave him more time to develop, it would not be hurtful or detrimental to his game. In fact, he can still stand to learn more and add more size and experience before automatically stepping up and joining the Oilers’ ranks. But still, considering his performance and chemistry so far, a nine-game trial is still surely a possibility.