Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yamamoto and the Slide Rule

The NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is over 500 pages, with hundreds of different rules and definitions. Many of them require multiple readings to comprehend, and many have multiple bullet points outlining different scenarios covering contracts, free agency, waivers, grievances, insurance, rosters and much more.

One unique rule is the entry-level slide rule, and young Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto could be impacted by it this season.

In layman’s terms the rule reads as such:

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In the event a player who is signed to an entry-level contract and is 18 or 19 years old (on September 15th) does not play in a minimum of 10 NHL games in the first season of their ELC then their contract is considered to ‘slide’, or extend, by one year.

Yamamoto turns 20 on September 29th, but since he is only 19 years of age on September 15th he qualifies for the slide rule. AHL games do not count in the slide rule. If he plays ten NHL games (regular or playoffs) then his contract will kick in, but if not it will slide to next season.

We saw this last season with Janne Kuokkanen. Like Yamamoto, he was born in 1998, but he was drafted in 2016 because he is born in May. He was playing in Finland when he was drafted, so he was eligible to play in the AHL at 19. He went to the Carolina Hurricanes training camp last year, and played four games, but spent the majority of the season in the AHL. He was 19 on September 15th, 2017 and so he played all season in the AHL but his contract slid to this year. He still received his AHL salary, of course, but he qualified under the slide rule.

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He will essentially play four years of pro hockey on his entry-level deal, and depending how this season goes for Yamamoto and the Oilers, we could see a similar situation in Edmonton.

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Obviously it could help the Oilers, salary cap-wise, in the future if Yamamoto plays fewer than ten NHL games this year. His entry level deal is $925,000, but his bonus structure has him maxed out at $230,000year. If he reached his bonues, which would only be two of his “A” bonuses (20 goals, 35 assists, 60 points, .73 ppg, top-six fwd in TOI, top-three fwd in +/-, NHL all-rookie team or selected to play in All-star game), then his max salary would be  $1.155 million.

If he becomes a top-six forward in the future he’d be an absolute bargain for potentially three NHL seasons after this year.

It is not ideal, financially, for Yamamoto, and I’m certain his goal is to make the team this year. I don’t expect the Oilers to keep him in the minors strictly to use the slide-rule, but it is an added bonus for them. Also, I don’t believe a year in the AHL will hinder his development at all. Many NHL players started their pro career in the AHL and it did not hinder them. I don’t worry about where a player was drafted. I care more about if he is ready to contribute at the NHL level. If Yamamoto is ready, great, but if he isn’t there is no reason to force the issue.

Yamamoto’s biggest challenge will be handling the strength of NHL players. He’s always had to endure playing against bigger players through minor hockey and junior, but the NHL is a much different beast. Many of the opposing players are five to ten years older than him. They will have a big advantage in experience and strength.

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If Yamamoto isn’t noticeably better than Ty Rattie, Jesse Puljujarvi or any of the other right wingers he will be competiting against, he should start the season in the AHL. That doesn’t mean he has to stay there. If he plays well, or others struggle in Edmonton the Oilers can recall him at any point.

I doubt the slide-rule will be much of a factor in evaluating his NHL-readiness, but it is a unique rule which could help the Oilers in the future, both on the ice and within the salary cap.

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Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Unless he is head and shoulders better than what the Oilers have they absolutely must send him down and hopefully forget him.

    Maxing out his development now rather than watching him turn into a project later –
    ala Anthony Duclair – is a must with this team.

  • WhoreableGuy

    I get scared when I hear fans wanting players to bulk up, there’s got to be a fine line of getting stronger and keeping your speed. The shiftiness of RNH and Eberle’s first seasons were lost on bulking up and as we saw at the Billy Moores Cup, Yamamoto’s spins and first couple of steps separated him from checkers. This isn’t the Mid-90’s anymore so let the players grow naturally and play to their strengths, he’s a hockey player that has dealt with the size difference all of his life and will draw penalties because no one will touch him.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Yamamoto is going to be a decent hockey player, but he isnt NHL ready. He needs to work on his strength and some of the weakness’s in his game but he need more AHL experience before he will be NHL ready. Has he got great potential, I believe so, but the game in the NHL is very fast and the players are a lot bigger for the most part. One of the things I noticed when Yamamoto played last year was bigger guys were having their way with him and he was easily geting pushed off the puck in battles with the bigger guys, give the kid credit though he didnt shy away, but no one wants to see him get hurt either which is why I say the oilers need to work with him on his strength and putting on a little muscle.
    Yamamoto has great hands and his offence is very good his defeneive side is lacking a little and it is one of the reasons he should go to the AHL and work on his strength and putting on some muscle and his defensive game.’

    There is a need for scoring with the Oil and we all know there are holes in the line up even still, but they do not need to rush Yamamoto, There have been lots of small players Yamamoto’s size who did very well in the NHL and Yamamoto can be one of them, just he needs more time in the AHL first plus his contract status and the rule only helps things with the situation Yamamoto falls under that you pointed out, so the Oilers should take advantage of it

  • Bills Bills

    No need to rush him. Development is the key to long term success and if we want JP to develop into the top winger he was projected to be, we need to give him opportunity. Playing a smaller, younger, lower pedigree player ahead of him because of a lack of options is short sighted. Develop the players at the levels they are best suited for right now. For Yamamoto that is the AHL, for JP it is on the first or second line in Edmonton.

    Sadly we saw this mistake before, JP should have been in the AHL all season.

    Please learn from past mistakes Oilers.

    • Leichs

      Big difference between JP and Yam. JP played on the big ice his whole life and didnt speak a lick of english. Seems like Yam is already more mature than Jesse. Obviously not physically but definitely mentally. Lots of jobs to battle for this summer.

      • Bills Bills

        Again it becomes about development. In Europe they don’t have the marathon schedule the NHL does and yes bigger ice means more time. So longer to develop and become accustomed to the NA game. It is not a big deal if the team has the foresight to acknowledge and allow the development to happen naturally. JP is JP, he is not Patrick Laine or anyone else. People should stop expecting him to be.

  • JayTee

    Yamamoto should be in the AHL regardless. I liken him to Eberle, in that they’re both small, elusive wingers with a great shot. Eberle had the luxury of playing 9 games (9 points) in the AHL after his 08-09 junior season, and another 11 games (14 points) in the AHL after his 09-10 junior season. He came more than ready to the league in 10-11 (18-25-43). Give KY at least(!!) 25 games in the minors.

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      The difference betweeen Yamamoto and Eberle is that Yamamoto goes into the tough spots, the corners, in front of the ice. He’s small, but he’s much more used to getting hit than Eberle at his age i think. Still, i think he needs some time in the AHL, i can see him staying a month and being brought up.

  • Just facts

    I don’t understand how anyone can say he “must” start in the AHL. That should be decided by the players play. If the islanders had taken the view that AHL was required, Barzal, who had similar WHL stats to kailer, wouldn’t of had his 85 point, rookie of the year season. I know Barzal is bigger and I’m not predicting that kind of season for Kailer, it just reinforces that you need to let the players performance dictate where they play.

    • Serious Gord

      I asked this on an earlier thread – got no response, so i will try again:

      Can someone cite evidence where having a player up for nine games at the beginning of the season helps in his development. And if it does, does it outweigh the disruption it causes to the line-up at the beginning of a season?

      • Edmonton Eulers

        I don’t have any concrete evidence or stats to back this up, so it’s just a theory. I think the 9 games allows a player to get a feel for what the game is like at the NHL level. They realize what areas of their game they need to improve, and can then focus on those areas when they play a lower level of hockey.

        I also don’t think there is a ton of disruption to the lineup just based on the fact that TMac blends his lines pretty often anyways.

  • Redbird62

    Jason, can you clear something up for me? How does Yamamoto having played 9 games last year under his ELC contract, which allowed it to slide affect this. What you quoted from the CBA suggests only one slide already for last year and does not discuss the slide occurring for a second year.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Here is 9.1(d)(ii) (which deals with a 2nd slide):

      In the event that a Player signs his first SPC at age 18 and has had his SPC
      extended pursuant to Subsection (i), and such Player does not play at least
      ten (10) NHL Games in the second season under that SPC, then the term
      of his SPC and his number of years in the Entry Level System shall be
      extended for one (1) additional year.

  • CMG30

    Players are ready when they’re ready. If Yamo comes to training camp and plays his way onto the team then so be it. If not, no harm in sending him back down. At the end of the day, it benefits everyone to have a player ready to preform at NHL level when he does make the jump rather than have to find places to shelter players while they ‘develop’. Or worse, playing only a handful of minutes because they haven’t quite made it yet.

    • Bills Bills

      That is about as likely as the Flamers winning the cup in 04. Clearly your sense of reality is out of touch. But don’t worry, keep believing the Flamers will be better next year.

  • OilCan2

    Yamamoto has Ty and Jesse to beat out so he should have a good shot at it. The article does not make it clear about his overage Junior status. I think he can start the year in Spokane and stay.

    • Oilman99

      The kid needs to get stronger before playing in the NHL, or he is going to get killed. World juniors against better competition injured, WHL playoffs against fiercer competition injured, not a good sign.

      • Reg Dunlop

        The kid’s calling card is not strength, it is quickness and elusiveness. If he sacrifices mobility for an increase in mass and strength, guess what? He will still get rag-dolled because he is a very small framed man, and he won’t be as able to separate himself from checkers.

  • OriginalPouzar

    There is an argument of a benefit to allowing the first year of an ELC to burin off in that it likely makes the 2nd contract cheaper than it otherwise would be (as the player will be less established and developed at the ELCs completion) – albeit, the 2nd contract (which is likely more expensive that the ELC would come a year early).

    There is an argument that the more important threshold is the 40 games on the roster (not games played but games on the roster) which is very important as it triggers a year of service towards UFA status.

      • OriginalPouzar

        I think it did – with the contracts this off-season, he could be even higher with another season of close to a P/G (with unsustainable low PP production, less time with McDavid and middling linemates) – he showed for a second season in a row that he is elite offensively.

  • Kepler62c

    I would hope the Oilers brass is aware of this, if he is on the fence at the end of training camp then this is something that SHOULD factor into the decision. If he’s far and away one of the best RWs then don’t worry about it.