The Edmonton Oilers have assigned forward Kailer Yamamoto to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs and recalled Brad Malone from the Bakersfield Condors, the team announced Monday.
Yamamoto was taken 22nd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and since then, has done plenty to prove his NHL worth. The 18-year-old led all skaters with five goals through the preseason, and his standout performance at training camp earned him a spot on the Oilers’ opening night roster.
As he eased into his NHL responsibilities, an injury to Leon Draisaitl led Yamamoto to a spot on the top line. He impressed with three assists and a lot of chemistry and speed on that unit, and for a while, it seemed that he would become a fixture.
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However, when Draisaitl returned, and the Spokane native started to see a decline in scoring, he struggled to maintain a spot in the lineup. He couldn’t capture that same chemistry with his teammates, and though he still possessed drive in his game and crashed the net, he couldn’t muster up much production.
Ultimately, as he started to become more of a scratch, and with the Oilers struggling on offence, Edmonton returned him to the WHL, where he can continue to develop with the Chiefs.
Is Yamamoto Better Off?
While he did show a lot of growth and development at the NHL level, he will benefit from more time in juniors. Not only will he get more ice time, but he will be able to learn and dominate at that level, while also taking what he learned at the NHL level and applying it to his game.
Additionally, the 5-foot-8, 154-pound forward could benefit from putting on more size and bulk, which will help make him stronger and more effective as he moves up the ranks.
In the end, the Oilers need more offence, and they aren’t getting much from Yamamoto. Therefore, it is better to let him thrive at the lower levels with more ice time, rather than keep him as a healthy scratch night after night.