Photo Credit: NHL.COM

Yamamoto Signs. He’s Going Back to Junior. Right? RIGHT?

The Edmonton Oilers signed first-round selection Kailer Yamamoto today, the young man had a fine performance recently at the World Juniors Summer Showcase and this signing puts a cap on a fantastic year for him.


  1. Kailer Yamamoto 5, 3-3-6
  2. Aapeli Rasanen 4, 0-3-3
  3. Phil Kemp 6, 0-1-1
  4. Markus Niemelainen 4, 0-1-1
  5. Dylan Wells 3, 4.24 .842
  6. Stuart Skinner 2, 8.23, .727
  7. Source

Yamamoto was exceptional in the tournament and there was a buzz around his line (who ran circles around the opposition). Yamamoto showed well about one month after he was drafted, much like Sam Gagner in 2007 and the Canada-Russia series that summer.

It isn’t an identical situation, as Gagner was a more prominent player (higher draft pick). However, there are some things about Yamamoto and Gagner that are similar, including fantastic offensive seasons leading up to the draft:

  • Sam Gagner 2007: 53gp, 35-83-118 (team scored 301 goals)
  • Kailer Yamamoto 2017: 65gp, 42-57-99 (team scored 234 goals)

Gagner played on a powerhouse led by Patrick Kane, Yamamoto on a young and struggling team led by, well, Yamamoto.


The two college men near the top (Joe Gambardella & Tyler Vesel) perform very well but are older and the chances of either player arriving in the NHL and posting their projected NHLE is low. Drake Caggiula’s NHLE was 44 points one year ago, he scored 18 points in 60 NHL games last season.

Sam Gagner’s NHLE from his big season above was 55 points—and he scored 49 points with the Oilers in 2007-08 in 79 games.


I’m not suggesting Kailer Yamamoto is going to make the Oilers, score at will and push Jesse Puljujarvi or Anton Slepyshev to Bakersfield. I’m not saying it’s wise to contemplate. I’m saying it’s possible. Kailer Yamamoto is 5.08, 153 and not yet 19 years old.

This is the Edmonton Oilers, and they are looking for a roadrunner with insane skills who can think that game at an elite level. It’s going to be a crazy idea until it isn’t; I’m still betting on fall 2018 for this brilliant young hockey player to make his NHL debut, but won’t be shocked if Kailer Yamamoto gets nine NHL games this fall. Or more. Seriously.

    • Dan 1919

      I can’t see him playing pro at 153lbs. That’s skinny even for that height. 170-180lbs has some muscle for 5’8″ but he’s a straight up risk to get injured at 153lbs. I wouldn’t even waste time with 9 games unless he’s completely ridiculous showing he could play all 82. Go to junior with a main focus of bulking up and continuing to develop, he’ll get his shot, no need to rush it.

  • Jordan88

    Age means next to nothing when dealing with top 10 picks.

    Wait we picked where? Oh right the play offs!
    Either way Yamamoto will get a chance but thankfully won’t be relied on.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i’m OK if he makes the team out of camp but gets sent back to juniors after 9 games. he apparently only needs to do 1 more year of junior then he can go to the AHL. that’s pretty sweet because he might show up on the Oilers roster permanently sooner than later.

  • Leaking5w-30

    Can someone explain to me why the oil always burn those 9 games at the beginning of the season? Why not give a kid half a year in junior and then call him up after an injury with the big club?

    • Jordan88

      Two reasons, kid is on a tear helping his team, bringing him up for 9 games mid season means disrupting established chemistry, then it throws off his game send him back down. Confidence is everything to young players when they lose it its hard to come back.

      Second reason, most clubs play off bound usually have depth reserves who have paid their due in the AHL, bigger, stronger, much more capable men. Slepyshev is a good example of this that guy can play any line any side I bet he could take draws as well.

  • OTOF2

    Hey Lowetide, I know it’s not you personally, but any idea why this site keeps running those bogus Crosby advertisements? It really brings the site down. I’m surprised they support / allow such crap on this site.

  • Hemi

    By all counts, the kid has it going on. My logic side says keep him in junior for the year but my “lets open the present now side” says play him right of the bat and let see where and or what we have in him.

    The camp will show some of his stuff but its camp and one has to keep that in mind. Either way, the kid is a firecracker and if he can keep from getting clubbered by the big boys, he could be a diamond in the rough!

    Going to be interesting for sure come this fall. Bring it on!

  • OriginalPouzar

    Sure, keep Kailer out of camp but I can’t imagine he plays 10 games unless he truly looks like he’s able to produce 45 plus points that aren’t fully “zoomed”.
    We keep talking about the need for value contracts going forward, cheap young players who outperform their cap hits.
    We need Kailer to give us 3 full value contract years on his ELC and we simply cannot flush one this year if he’s not going to be a material performer.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Even if he shows well enough to get a spot, he should go back to jr for another year. Letting him perculate and pushing his contract back another season is good for both parties involved.

      • BlueHairedApe

        I would be interested to know what a player gets paid for training camp and preseason games. My bet is they get quite a bit more than junior wages which should help these young guys.

      • 24% body fat

        Whats best for him, is what prolongs his NHL career and develops him the best. Giving up 1M for one year and actually developing into a scoring player in the NHL will out way the first years paycheck.

  • madjam

    Draisaitl will be out still waiting for a contract , so Yamamoto draws in on McDavid’s right wing and leads the league in points by game 10 . The kid simply knows how to compliment top talents like Heisher and Middlestad in junior . The little engine that could . Night everyone .

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Not big on individual honors and awards but I want a Calder trophy for this team. Max 9 games unless he legit looks like Patrick Kane 2.0.

    I’m okay waiting one more year if necessary.

  • A-Mc

    Do it right: send him to junior to tear that league apart. Confidence is huge and he needs to be riding high at all times. I’d get him onto a team that’s pushing for the cup – like they did with Draisaitl.

  • Roberto

    Whenever the time comes, him on a line with McDavid, and Maroon protecting them both on the left side is gonna be awesome. Lucic Drai and Pulj on line 2, with Nuge, Strome and _____ on the 3rd line. The future looks good. Then lets not forget about Kassian, JJ, Cagguila, Slep and whoever else to round out the bottom 6. I expect long playoff runs for the foreseeable future. Oil D and goalie arent bad either, with tonnes of expected improvement with age and good contracts, and Bear and Jones et al waiting in the wings. Savor the mall.

  • toprightcorner

    The smart path for Yamamoto

    – (2017/18)1 last year with Spokane where he will score 57 goals and 125 pts and lead the WHL.

    – (2018/19) start in the AHL and look for a mid season call up. This allows him to adjust to playing with pro men. He will excell and be close to a pt/gm (this year will be his 5th full WHL season, qualifying him for the AHL earlier than most CHL players).

    This allows proper development and adjustment to pro hockey size. I see him playing about 40 NHL games in 2018/19 and scoring about 25 pts. His first full NHL season he will score 55-60 pts.