The Edmonton Oilers are just two days away from kicking off their 2017-18 campaign, and 2017 first-rounder Kailer Yamamoto made the cut.
Edmonton is set to square off against the Calgary Flames Wednesday, which also marks Yamamoto’s first NHL game. Though there was some concern that the 5-foot-8, 154-pound winger didn’t have enough size, he shined in the preseason and proved he deserves some NHL time to start the year.
In five preseason games, the 18-year-old racked up five goals and six points and was a plus-3. He made himself prominent every shift, and also showed great chemistry with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jussi Jokinen. This means that he could potentially start the year on the top-six, but considering Leon Draisaitl possibly starting at centre, he could be a part of the third line to start the year.
For Yamamoto, this season will mark an immediate jump from juniors to the NHL. He had 42 goals and 99 points in 65 games with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs last year and from the looks of his ability so far, he could translate his offensive prowess to the NHL level.
While critics may be concerned in regards to the Washington native’s size, it truly doesn’t make a difference. He makes up for his lack of physicality in his speed and stickhandling ability, as well as his shot. Not only that, he recovers quickly and stacks up well against physicality and aggression, so when it comes to taking a hit, it shouldn’t affect him.
Moving into the year, Edmonton may give Yamamoto a nine-game trial to start the year, and if he proves to mesh well, he will stick around and get a chance to stay with the team. Still, given his effort and determination so far, he shouldn’t have too much trouble adapting to the league and is likely to fight hard enough to prove his full-time worth.