Though the Edmonton Oilers may be hesitant toward rushing their first-round picks, it looks like Kailer Yamamoto is ready to start the year on the NHL roster.
The 18-year-old again shined in the Oilers 6-2 preseason defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes Monday, scoring a goal in the losing effort. Through four preseason games, he has five goals and six points, including one game-winning tally. In addition, he has eight shots and is a plus-3. In 42 games with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs last season, he had 42 goals and 99 points.
First off, considering the team’s history, it is understandable that Edmonton may not be ready to rush their prospects. However, if the players are ready, and prove to be an asset and a strong contributor during camp, the Oilers shouldn’t stop them out of concern for development. In fact, they should encourage the performance and reward the player.
In Yamamoto’s case, he appears ready to fight for an NHL spot. The biggest concern surrounds around the fact that the 5-foot-8, 154-pound winger could put on more size. However, it has not affected his performance so far. In fact, his speed and stickhandling ability counteracts his size and physicality.
And though it’s early, one has to consider that the Oilers are a physical team. As he continues to grow, he will bulk up and add more physicality to his game, especially within the organization.
He has shown chemistry with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jussi Jokinen so far, which is looking to be a potential third line. And though this would mean a bottom-six spot, they could get a fair share of ice time, considering they are a skilled-enough trio to be considered a second line at the NHL level.
Overall, Yamamoto appears to be ready to join the NHL ranks and should get a shot. He has proven his worth, and even if it’s just a nine-game trial, Edmonton should give him the consideration he’s earned.