During draft weekend, we were introduced to Kailer Yamamoto and his tremendous skill set. A week later, he is attending the orientation camp and we’re talking about his size, NHL-readiness and his future. Before we tackle those subjects, let’s (for the record) hear what the top services said about him in front of the 2017 draft.
- The Black Book: “An electric player with dynamic offensive ability, easily some of highest skill of any forward I watched this year, he’s just so small and at times took some big contact when I was viewing him. Love his aggressive nature and how he attacks puck carries from all angles, it puts players on edge.”
- Corey Pronman: He’s a plus skater, puck handler and passer. Yamamoto has great agility on his edges, combined with a good top gear. He can create when he is carrying the puck due to his skill, creativity and ability to see the ice. He can come down the wing with speed one shift and quarterback a power play the next.
- ISS scout Milan Dragicevic: “Huge engine in small body. Very smart, high hockey IQ, excellent puck skills and speed. Can change the game in a positive way very quickly. Overall, really like his game and his composure, hard to teach that offensive skill set”.
- Red Line Report: Perhaps the best playmaker in the draft, the under-sized Yamamoto is an ultra-skilled winger who develops chances out of nothing and always knows where his linemates are – great vision. A true spark plug who can change the course of a game by creating a big play or scoring the big goal using his high hockey IQ and creativity.
These are important words and we will refer back to all of them over the coming years. A great scouting report, and these are four, gives you the entire picture of a player. So, we go into the experience of tracking progress fully aware of the complete picture. Now, the numbers.
YAMAMOTO COMPARED TO OILERS PROSPECTS
Important to factor age into the scenario, Yamamoto is 18 years and nine months, while Joe Gambardella is 23 years and seven months, meaning Yamamoto is the most talented offensive forward in the system based on the numbers. The only real competition is Jesse Puljujarvi and based on results one year ago I’d give the edge to Yamamoto.
THE SEASON TO COME
Yamamoto should be a strong contender for the WHL scoring championship in 2017-18. He finished No. 7 overall a year ago and all or most of the names ahead of him will be in pro leagues next year. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Yamamoto gets in training camp and pre-season. He’ll flourish with skill and that is going to raise excitement levels. Edmonton’s plans on RW this season are more about Jesse Puljujarvi so we may not see Yamamoto in a feature role this fall.
Kailer Yamamoto is 5.09, 160. You’d love to see him get to 5.11, 190 but that seems unrealistic from here. Everything else about him screams elite, including speed, skill and off the grid numbers at the NHL combine. The one thing that keeps coming up about him is size, as in “are you seriously thinking this guy is going to be able to play at this size?” and we’re just going to have to see about Kailer. Not every prospect turns out as hoped and injuries derail smaller players 10 at a time. All of that understood, Kailer Yamomoto is a substantial NHL prospect.