The Oilers development camp is underway and that means the prospects are back in town with a spring in their steps and NHL dreams in their hearts. For the fresh faces like Evan Bouchard, this camp is a new experience that they’ve never gone through before, one that they’re trying to enjoy and make the most of, but for Kailer Yamamoto, he comes into his second tour with a clear goal in mind — making the Edmonton Oilers.
After yesterday’s on ice session, Kailer Yamamoto spoke to the media a little bit about where he’s at, his plans for the summer, and what he expects from himself for the upcoming season. When asked about his goal for the year, Yamamoto wasted no time getting right to the point:
“I really want to make this team, so this whole summer I’ve been really motivated trying to get bigger and stronger to get to where I need to be to make this team.”
I like the idea of an inspired Yamamoto. I don’t know how much size he can add to his frame, but I do like the idea of the kid that no one thought would be able to crack the roster last year and did being motivated to the point of forcing his way into a spot. Would you bet against him? I’m not sure that I would based on what happened last year, but let’s try to put the horse before the cart for once.
After getting nine games with the Oilers last season, Yamamoto was asked what he learned in that time.
“It’s a big, fast league and you can’t hold on to the puck too much.”
Even bigger when you’re Mighty Mouse, amirite? Sorry, I interrupted and that was rude. You were talking about what you’ve learned. Please, go on…
“A lot of guys are coming at you so you’ve got to move the puck quickly, make quicker decisions and get your shot off faster.”
I always think it’s interesting to hear prospects talk about how much faster the NHL game is compared to what they’re used to in junior. I mean, it’s not surprising at all but I can only imagine what it must be like for a guy like Yamamoto to have giant humans rushing at him as opposed to the fly-bys from 16 year olds that he was getting in Spokane.
“You can definitely get away with stuff (in junior) but I really worked on trying to do everything at an NHL level.”
I think that getting the nine-game taster was an invaluable experience for Yamamoto and I was happy to see that he used it as motivation after he went back to Spokane.
“Being up here last year really showed me how I needed to act and how I need to play. When I went back there I definitely tried to emulate that.”
I can’t help but think of how crazy that month or so must have been for Yamo. No one expected him to stick with the team out of training camp and the fact that he did was a major accomplishment, so it must have been a trip for the kid when he finally ended up back in junior.
“You have to look at the process and take it one step at a time and not too far ahead thinking you’re going to make the team.”
I was hoping that someone was going to ask about what it was like for him to go back to Spokane after spending nine games with the Oilers. Yamamoto had a slow start back in junior when he first got back and I was interested in knowing what he thought of that transition. I mean, you’d have to think it was upsetting going from private jets back to the long bus rides of the WHL. Obviously, he finished the season strong but I am curious to know about the first chunk of his return. Ah well, that’s in the past right, Kailer? Eyes forward. To infinity and beyond. All of that stuff.
“You have to put your best foot forward every day to make sure you’re doing all the right things.”
My man. Go kill it, kid. I don’t know if you’re going to land the spot you covet but I’m pulling for you. Gord knows we need you.
When I think of Yamamoto eyeing a roster spot as his goal for the summer, I can’t help but believe in his ability to do it. The Oilers need speed and skill on the wing and I think that this coming season will provide as good of a chance as any for him to crack the roster. At the very least, I know that he’s going to make it as tough as possible on the Oilers when it comes to cut time, and it will be interesting to see if anyone is going to be able to steal his spot away. Will the Oilers bring in a low-cost veteran to bolster the depth on the wings? If so, will that guy or guys be able to take the spot away from Yamamoto?
Whenever I think about Yamamoto I remember that this was the kid that told the Oilers he was going to haunt their dreams if they didn’t draft him and then went out and cracked the opening night roster when no one thought he could. Considering what he was able to accomplish as an undersized 18 year old, is it really that unreasonable to believe that he can crack the roster again and make it stick this time? Be it the right move or not, I can’t help but look at the depth chart and see that the Oilers don’t have a lot of skill on that right side nor do I see too many people that are standing in his way.
Right or wrong, with the depth chart looking as it does today, I almost wonder if there’s a spot on that right side that’s Yamamoto’s to lose.
Check out the full clip below:
"I really want to make this team this year. This whole summer I've been really motivated to get bigger & stronger." @kailer_yamamoto on his progress as he checks in for his second #Oilers Development Camp pic.twitter.com/Fq3vsLk29E— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 26, 2018
YAMAMOTO’S CAREER SO FAR
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