Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Yamamoto and Puljujarvi

We are three games into the new NHL season and the math is barely awake. “One eye open” sample sizes aren’t going to give us much, but we can monitor the patient as the days go down. One question that came my way today goes like this:

  • Why is Kailer Yamamoto still on the roster? Jesse Puljujarvi was better one year ago. Why are the Oilers waiting?

I think there are a couple of reasons. First, Yamamoto won the job, and Todd McLellan has been quoted on several occasions saying they’ll give the young man a full shot (tomorrow night he may start alongside Connor McDavid). The other reason may be results. Kailer Yamamoto, despite playing very little and clearly showing his youth during some coverage sorties, has in fact done some things worth noting.


  • This is all 5×5, and all via NaturalStatTrick.
  • There’s some fascinating information here, including Yamamoto’s impressive shots per 60 at 5×5. Four shots in two games doesn’t sound like a lot, but Yamamoto’s playing time (11:53 against Winnipeg, 6:33 against Calgary) obscure things. He’s getting the puck on net more often than Puljujarvi one year ago.


  • The Oilers employed Jesse Puljujarvi (5×5) 8:19 and 6:22 in his first two games. He played with good linemates, but the overall possession numbers weren’t great and the on-ice shots for/against low event. JP’s games are here and here.
  • The Oilers employed Kailer Yamamoto (5×5) 6:33 and 11:06 in his first two games. He played with good linemates, with solid overall possession. His on-ice shots for-against are on the downbeat, but his possession number is more than 50 percent (a very good sign, small sample size alert). KY’s games are here and here.


Hell if I know. I do think the answer to the question at the beginning of this article is something like “they know Puljujarvi needs more time and want to find out about Yamamoto” and beyond that we’re guessing. The earliest of early math results suggest more good things are happening on the ice with Yamamoto but that could be luck, the position of the sun or a reflection of fine work done by one of his linemates. We do know Kailer Yamamoto is getting more shots-per-60 on net than Puljujarvi did one year ago, and that’s a useful skill.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    We’ll see tomorrow what he’s made of if he gets on the McDavid-Maroon #1 line. Besides getting to play with McDavid, he’ll be playing Against the #1 lines.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Puljijarvi is in the AHL working on his game because he is a developing prospect. We have the somewhat rare opportunity of using the AHL to develop a teenager.

    While Jesse may be able to provide some top 6 offence in the NHL now he should not be brought up because the organization has a lack of depth at RW.

    He is a material prospect and an important one for this team’s future.

    He was assigned to Bakersfield to continue to work on his game and he continues to do that.

    Last night he made a series of mistakes that led directly to a goal against. He will learn from that and get better because of it in the proper league. If he does that at the NHL level it’s more material and the coach will have issues trusting him.

    Jesse deserves the opportunity to develop in the AHL. Forget he was drafted fourth overall. HE may need a month or two but should not be called up until he is ready.

  • GriffCity

    Yamamoto is simply a better player than Puljujarvi, at least right now. I’m hoping Puljujarvi can really turn his game around but early optics are not good. Yamamoto has way more puck sense and uses his body better than Puljujarvi and that is not a good thing. I’d love both of these kids to have long careers in Edmonton and help this team succeed. If I had to choose now, it would be Yamo.

  • madjam

    Jesse was 10 months younger than Kailer coming into NHL last season . Not like Jesse fluent in American lingo like Kailer was coming in . Jesse needs to come back up because most pizza in the States is terrible compared to Edmonton’s .

  • ScottV

    They are trying to send an organizational messsge that tangible results count.

    It’s skewed by a number of factors that really dont relate to the reality of in season play and things like expérience, size, strength etc etc.

    Yeah – yeah – Yamamoto made a bit of a splash and it maybe bodes well in future seasons. He’s been rewarded with a few games, but lets not get carried away much longer. Get Jesse back in the mix and if he’s really not ready, hopefully PC has an eye on a proven vet rw who has a year left in the tank.

    • camdog

      Jesse was just here, the reason he is not here, is because he isn’t NHL ready. It’ll take more than 2-3 games in the AHL Jesse not being ready has nothing to do with any of the other players on the team.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Well, they’re both probably better than Bennett. I have had zero faith in him since he was drafted. He has a low hockey IQ, he is the model of inconsistency. First it was; “He had bad linemates…” I don’t know what the excuse is going to be this year.

    Sorry to come over here with this, but for some unknown, intangible reason my peeps on FN love him, and they pooped on me hard when I was advocating a sign and trade, or just a trade.

    I just watched Sam do a whole lot of sweet f@ck all…YET AGAIN. But no no, he’ll be fine because…reasons?

    Sorry, had to vent.

  • Oilerz4life

    Pump the brakes on Yamamoto, he’s getting a look and that’s about it. He’s a great prospect but there is a problem with RW depth if he’s the Oilers choice for top line minutes.

    I got trashed during summer optimism when I posted that the Oil lacked depth on D and RW and wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a step back this year. Seriously, good teams are built with character guys and stay the course through injuries. Already players are getting blamed and yes should step up, but if the depth at this point is Auvitu on D and Kelly or Strome or whoever at forward this is also on management setting the team up for failure.

    Really like Yamo as a prospect but some of you guys are wearing pretty rose colored glasses at this point. Really wondering who in the brass is wispering in PC’s ear because this is not a character line up. Some amazing star players we are lucky to have and then wishful thinking.

    • OldOilFan

      Agreed, the team at least lacks a specific playing-style, if not “character line up.” Maybe Pittsburgh just got lucky when they filled 1/2 their roster with guys making less than $2M/yr…. The Oilers aren’t having the same luck, so far.

  • Mitch92

    I think tonight will be Yamamoto’s last game with the Oilers this season. It is time to send him down to properly develop and regain his confidence. It is Jesse time!

  • madjam

    Jesse playing like he is tighter than a drum since he came here for some unknown reason(s) . He had McDavid type speed , high hockey IQ , booming shot and great stick handling ability . How does a talent go from being best player playing with Aho and Laine into a player that can no longer hold their jock straps ? He is looking like a shell of himself from 2 years ago . The Jesse from 2 years ago looked like a perfect match for Connor , but today he looks more like a busted kid who can’t get his game back .

    • Mitch92

      I think that assessment is a little harsh. Nobody has McDavid speed without the assistance of a combustion engine. Small samples show that Jesse plays best with better players. Jesse’s strength is as a playmaker but it seems everyone wants him to be a finisher. Some goals would be nice but I would be happy seeing him filling his bushel basket with apples while also scoring a few goals when the opportunity arises.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        “Nobody has McDavid speed without the assistance of a combustion engine..”

        No no no no…it’s a WARP engine. With combustion engines you can see the vehicle accelerate. With warp you’re just here one second then at the other end of the rink the next.

        Connor style.

      • madjam

        You watch him in junior tourneys and Liiga and the kid can flat out fly, reminding one very much of McDavid type separation that he can get . Here , he is tentative to turn on the jets . He is a finisher of high quality , but once again maybe lacks confidence and mental toughness presently to employ it . Maybe coaches just not getting the most out of him ? Super talent that seems to be losing part of his tool bag unfortunately .

  • Billy Charlebois

    Hey BringtheFire2.0. I’m a huge Oiler fan and can’t stand the Flames. Having said that, I like the fact that you came on to this site and posted something intelligent and were not simply trolling. I also like the fact the Oiler fans on this site haven’t shot you down with immature comments. Maybe I’m just an old guy, but the trolling crap is off putting. As much as I can’t stand the Flames, I do appreciate a discussion with reasonable fans.

  • Randaman

    We drafted Draisaitl and Calgary drafted Bennett. We won that one hands down. We drafted the big Finn and Calgary drafted Tkachuk. They won that one hands down. Trash away but the proof is in the pudding more than a year later.