Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Should he stay or should he go

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?


Sep 25, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto (56) looks for a loose puck in front of Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling (33) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

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.


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.


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.


Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/-
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers NHL 7 0 3 3 2 -2
NHL Totals   7 0 3 3 2



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  • Wiggleswag

    Send him down. Having Yam in the line-up is not making the Oilers a better team. He’s done OK with the time he’s had but he won’t and shouldn’t be missed when he goes back to Junior. Once the team starts scoring he will be an after thought.

  • Ginbaby

    It could be argued at the end of this year, should Draisaitl’s production increase this year that he could command a higher salary if this was his contract year. He hasn’t put up numbers to justify staying and I don’t see his body lasting a full season playing against men. Obviously, a fourth year in the dub isn’t ideal but that is the option.

  • The Perceptor

    Send him to the WHL and call up Puljujarvi (2 pts in 5 gp isn’t great, but he’s the type of player that does better with better players). Kailer has exceeded expectations but the rest of the year in the juniors, much like Draisaitl, will be best for him. McDavid needs vets on his line.

  • Oil DAWG

    I say keep him!! Purely on the fact that I like calling him Killer Yamamoto over Puljarvi’s “Pool party” …. yep that’s what I’m running with!!!!

    • cmandev77

      You sir are an A$$. I know have “ATTACK of the KILLER YAMAMOTO” in my head lol. (Of course sung to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes for those too young for the reference.)

  • rivid

    Sending him down is the right choice in my opinion. He does not have the strength for the NHL level and this can be seen in his shooting. Let him get 50 goals back in junior and give him a few things to work on. Next year he comes in stronger with tones of confidence and he will have a cheap contract to cover some of the bad contracts we have.

    • madjam

      If Oilers send him back to junior there is no guarantee he will be better come next year . He may very well have same problems or more than Jesse is having trying to make club this year . Not like he has the size of Draisaitl to make such a leap as he did the year after being sent back to junior . In the interim who has the ability of Kailer to replace him adequately in the lineup – no one but Draisaitl by the looks of it . Might as well get used to it , Kailer and his frame might only get up to 160-165 lbs. playing weight in the future and a minimal extra strength only . If sent back will he be a bust next season being as he was only a nbr. 22 pick this year , while Jesse was a nbr.4 . My money would be on Jesse next year to crack top 6 , not Kailer . That could leave Kailer looking at third line service , and doubt that would suit him or club . If they send him back this year , I bet they send him back the year after as well , or AHL if he qualifies .

      • Sir Dudeinstein

        picking a 5’6″ player isnt exactly holding high expectations he will be a top right winger.
        he may be a 2nd line right winger, give him credit where its due, he has skill with the puck and he likes to shoot but with your assuption there, next year we cant garentee draisaitl will be the first line winger, he may be able to be that 2nd line center.

  • russ99a

    He’s had a good look, send him down.

    Give the RFAs some chances with McDavid and Leon as their center and see if we have anything, before we have to make trades to add offense.

  • Mitch92

    Kailer Yamamoto was a revelation in the preseason. He has faded since the start of the season with a few moments of brilliance and a modest 3 assists in seven games and a -2. It makes sense to save the year on his contract and send him down for some seasoning now that he has had a good look at what it takes to succeed at the NHL level. Time to give Jesse Puljujarvi another opportunity.

    • madjam

      Kailer legitimately beats out Jesse , and now you are crazy enough to send Kailer back to junior and give his job to a lesser Jesse . Why would you do such a crazy thing like that , and expect the Oilers to get magically better ?

  • Ty Guy

    Yes it has been many years of young oilers in the NHL. Think back to Hall as rookie. He was reckless, fast, and spent half his ice time on his ass or doing faceplates in to the boards at mach 2. terrifying (for an oiler fan).Yam has sense, sees the ice well, can get out of the train tracks, skates well and to me, is a much more sensible rookie to keep up than those of the past. he’s had 7 games. one he warmed bench for half of. did you walk in to your new job and win employee of the month in the first week you worked? it will come together. he will survive 82. he stays as the best choice, not as a lack of options.

  • Sir Dudeinstein

    I like Yamamoto hussle, he will shoot the puck at any angle. If we do plan to keep Draisaitl on the RW with McDavid, we should send Yamamoto down to finish his Junior career. Let him work on some of his weaknesses (being a bit more patient with the puck and picking his shots is one at lease I saw in Pittsburgh)

    If we move Draisatl as 2C, hopkins as 3C and letestu (or Khaira as 4C/3LW)
    the RW I see in that setup as Slepyshev/Caggiula as 1RW (far stretch I know but Strome shows promise with Hopkins) Slepyshev/Caggiula as 2RW and Strome as 3RW. which leaves Kassian as 4RW

    I just think from what we saw the past few years with a smaller Right winger (cough Eberle) its great to see a undersized gifted player with some hussle and not afraid to shoot even if its not the “perfect shot”

  • Dobbler

    I think you have to set the standard that you play guys based on merit, not contract, and not some theory about development, size, draft pedigree, etc. If they had done that before, they would have sent Drai down in his rookie year. Yamamoto is playing better than whoever would replace him. What does it say to the rest of the players, if merit doesn’t decide who’s in the lineup? It’s got to be merit, period.

  • Stallions #35

    Send him down. He is not going to make enough of a difference this year to be worth burning a year of his entry level contract. I like his hustle and his “thinking” the game factor but I also read here that he lacks man strength, hence his shots aren’t quite hard enough, etc. Give him a year and we see how he develops next TC.

  • madjam

    Yam will stay here for rest of year because Oilers cannot trade for someone who might do better than him – as several pundits like Button has said . Secondly , no body has taken the spot away from Kailer and I doubt internally any one will/could beyond Draisaitl . All so called other viable options are not as good as keeping Kailer here and let him work out any issues as he continues to progress this season . He has done pretty well in a limited 7 game stint so far , and he should only get better as season goes along . He is not in over his head like many of rest of squad are .

  • CursedDragon27

    I would send him down because we’re terrible right now. His confidence along with the rest of the team, offence wise, seems shot. Let him get some back.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Put me in the “send him down” camp. I don’t think he’s made that much of a difference during the regular season. Let him spend the year improving in juniors and see if he’s ready next year.

  • El Connor mcdaddy

    i think the Oilers should keep Yam. I know this is the unpopular opinion however we have a lack of depth on the right wing, and no immediate player to fill the need right now. Yam is clearly capable of playing in the NHL. he played very well against almost complete/complete NHL rosters in the pre season, like the rest of the Oilers did. And if anyone watched the pittsburgh game at all we can see that it is not a lack of skill keeping Yam from scoring, he finds open space and reads the plays well, which is something a winger on McDavid’s wing needs to be able to do. Very have been very few times where Yam has looked glaringly out of place, and until we have a RW with more skill, or speed than Yam on our roster it seems silly to send him down.

  • bwar

    We have no offense on the right side. Keeping him at least gives you the option to have 2 scoring lines. Otherwise this team gets extremely 1 dimensional with 1 scoring line and 3 lines of scraps.

    If he goes back to junior you have to recall Puljujarvi in my opinion. So then the question becomes, who gives you a better shot at winning, Yamamoto or Puljujarvi?