My friends, we’re closing in on decision time when it comes to whether or not Kailer Yamamoto stays with the Oilers or gets sent back to Spokane. In this week’s WWYDW, I’m asking you to make the call.
After last night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kailer Yamamoto officially wrapped his seventh NHL game with only two more to go before he burns off the first year of his entry-level contract. It’s a movie that Oilers fans have seen many times before as we’ve essentially spent a decade putting Draft picks into the NHL whether they were ready or not. With the Oilers off to a terrible start, the decision to keep or send Yamamoto back comes at an interesting time and will surely cause some divide within the fanbase regardless of what happens. The Oilers have a long history of rushing prospects into the show, and I’m curious to know whether or not you guys think that is the case with Yamamoto? Has he done enough to stay, or would it be better if he goes?
THE CASE TO KEEP HIM
The case to keep Yamamoto beyond the nine game marker is actually a pretty easy sell at this point. Even though he doesn’t have a goal yet it’s certainly not because of a lack of chances, nor is it because he looks out of place aside from the obvious fact that he’s three inches tall in the land of giants. Even then, his size doesn’t seem to be that much of an issue as he’s doing a fine job of using his hockey IQ to generally land him in the right place at the right time. Over the past week or so, Yamamoto has arguably been one of the most dangerous Oilers forwards and the fact that he hasn’t scored can almost be blamed on some kind of witchcraft or dark arts equivalent. His first NHL goal has to be just around the corner, right? Right. Not to mention, the Oilers are not a very fast team aside from a few guys and taking Yamamoto out of the lineup wouldn’t help at all.
For a team that’s starved for speed and skill does it really make sense to take Yamamoto out of the lineup? Is there even a better RW option for the top six? It’s not like Puljujarvi has been ripping it up in Bakersfield.
THE CASE FOR RETURNING HIM TO JUNIOR
If you’re on the side of sending Yamamoto back to Spokane, one of the reasons you likely use is the fact that the Oilers will need cheap contracts down the road when cap space gets tight. Having him burn a year of that cheap ELC could be a bad idea when you consider the kind of dollars the Oilers are going to have to fit under the cap in the coming seasons. Beyond McDavid and Draisaitl’s extensions, Edmonton has to sign several regulars next summer and that’s going to cause problems on the salary side. Considering this exact scenario (more or less) happened with Leon Draisaitl in his rookie season should be a reminder of why it’s not necessarily a smart idea to burn off that first year of the ELC before the prospect is ready. Maybe Draisaitl would have still signed a $68 million contract anyway, but it wouldn’t have kicked in this season. Will history repeat itself with Yamamoto if they decide to keep him around? In the very least, sending Yamamoto back to junior would delay whatever second contract payday that he will be in line for when his ELC runs out — those are savings that matter in the McDavid era.
As another point, you could also make the argument that Yamamoto needs to be producing at a greater clip than three assists (two secondary apples) in seven games if he’s going to be playing in the top six.
WHAT SAY YOU?
With the arguments tabled it’s now up to you to make the decision. Do you think that it is in the Oilers best interest to keep Kailer Yamamoto in the NHL beyond the nine games, or should they return him to Spokane to spend another year marinating in the WHL? I’m asking that you put on your Chiarelli/McLellan cap, assess the situation, and decide whether or not you’d keep Kailer Yamamoto on the roster beyond Saturday’s game against the Capitals?
Should he stay or should he go? That is the question.
YAMAMOTO’S SEASON SO FAR
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