Edmonton Oilers: What is Next for Kailer Yamamoto?

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 9: Kailer Yamamoto. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 9: Kailer Yamamoto. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto took a seat in Thursday’s 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars. And with Leon Draisaitl and Drake Caggiula returning, he is becoming the odd man out yet again.

As the Oilers prepare to take on the Washington Capitals Saturday, Yamamoto may find himself sitting out again. With less than nine NHL games under his belt, and with improvement and growth at the NHL level, should he stick around, or is it time to return to the WHL?

In seven games so far this season, the 2017 22nd overall pick has racked up three assists and 21 shots on goal. He is also a minus-2, and though he struggled to really find opportunities to start the year, he has proven his worth and potential as a top-six winger, especially on the first line alongside Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon.

Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers /

Edmonton Oilers

Yamamoto is a fast player with great hands and vision and is able to keep up with the play and think outside the box. He can also make fast decisions on the fly, This in itself makes him an asset on the top six, but his speed and skating ability ultimately makes him a great fit for that top line.

Will Yamamoto Stick Around?

Since Draisaitl has returned to the lineup, he has won back his spot on that top unit, somewhat making Yamamoto the odd man out. However, that doesn’t mean that he has to report back to juniors; in fact, there are many others places in the Edmonton lineup where he can still compete for a spot.

For instance, there are a number of Oilers forwards who have not proven their NHL worth just yet, including Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev. Both are showing somewhat of an AHL-level of play to their style, and he still has the potential to compete with these players for a spot.

Still, one must consider that he still needs more time to develop and that the 5-foot-8, 154-pound forward can take more time to add size as he dominated at the WHL level and continues to grow. Not only that, if he returns to juniors, he will get more ice time and the opportunity to continue to develop and fine-tune his game, whereas he will simply practice and sit in the press box or play very limited minutes in Edmonton.

Next: Edmonton Oilers: Return of Draisaitl Sparking Offence

Overall, there are two different perspectives to look at, but one thing is certain: in his NHL trial, the Spokane, Washington native has not only proven his worth and potential, but also the fact that he was by far one of the top prospects available in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.