After being drafted 22nd overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Kailer Yamamoto has arguably been one of the most followed players in the Oilers’ prospect pool. We don’t think we’re talking out of school when we say that no one would have expected Yamamoto to crack last year’s opening night roster but that’s exactly what happened. Yamamoto surprised everybody by earning a roster spot and appearing in nine NHL games before being returned to the Spokane Chiefs to finish off the WHL season. This year, Yamamoto will be looking to stick with the Oilers for a full season, and while we don’t know what is bound to happen after training camp kicks off next month, we’re not about to bet against the guy that continues to SIUTBOHC, as Robin Brownlee would say.
Position: Right Wing — Shoots: Right
Born: September 29th, 1998 — City: Spokane, Washington
Height: 5 feet 8 inches — Weight: 154 lbs [173 cm/70 kg]
Drafted: 22nd overall (first round) in 2017
Junior Team: Spokane Chiefs — League: WHL
NEWS AND SCOUTING REPORTS
Jason Gregor broke down Yamamoto’s skillset earlier in the summer in his Top 15 best Oilers prospects:
His hockey sense and vision are his best attributes. He can think the game well enough to comfortably play alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl in the future. He will need to get stronger. Size and weight isn’t as much of an issue in today’s game, but when you are Yamamoto’s size, 5’6′, 160 pounds, you will need to be strong to battle against top-four NHL defenders. He has always played against bigger players and had success, but the size and strength of NHL players is much different than playing against 19 and 20 year olds in the WHL when he was 16 and 17. The Oilers lack of proven right wingers combined with their two excellent centres makes Edmonton a perfect organization for Yamamoto. I see him getting some NHL action this year, but I suspect he sees more time in the AHL his first pro season.
Dusty Nielson also had a take on Yamamoto, placing him near the top of his own prospect list:
The more you look at the team’s current cap situation the more you realize how likely it is that he is a full-time Oiler this season. He impressed at moments during his extended look last year and probably could have at least survived, not thrived, in the NHL. If he comes into camp stronger than he was last year that may be enough to get him regular ice-time on the big club. I’d prefer the team find some depth on the wings so he could spend time in the AHL but I’m starting to doubt that happens.
Ryan Biech looked at Yamamoto’s skillset for the Nation Network prospect profile series:
Yamamoto doesn’t play like he’s one of the smallest players on the ice, no afraid to get into battles or collisions when the situations arises.
I’ve seen Yamamoto play live, and seen multiple games through video. The kid is relentless in his puck pursuit and takes the punishment when needed. For example, during a game against Vancouver, Yamamoto was battling Bailey Dhaliwal along the boards for the puck. Yamamoto took the abuse from the 6’3″ defender, took the puck out of the corner and created havoc in front. There is no fear in his game, if the puck is loose, he wants it.
At times, it feels like scouts are just pinning any situation where the puck is lost as a ‘it’s because he’s small’. when watching Yamamoto, there isn’t a player who works harder to get into open space. If he does lose a battle, he is quick to re-engage and force pressure on his opponent.
Future Considerations profiled Yamamoto leading up to the 2017 draft:
A pint-sized, yet dynamic, playmaker… small, speedy forward with excellent hockey sense and quick hands…has a strong work ethic that keeps him going…great overall quickness, first-step jump to create separation and an ability to alter speeds to create gaps…sneaky and stealth-like in finding prime scoring ice…very creative with the puck and shows off creative hands…uses his size to squeak through the tightest of holes…is a force in possession as he likes the puck on his stick, and is dangerous as a set-up man or shooter in the offensive zone…poised, clutch and aware…feisty on the forecheck, not physically, but uses his speed to force opponents into rushed plays while clogging up passing lanes with an active stick…one of those rare wingers who has the ability to affect the flow of a game like a center…a very special talent, high octane and cerebral.
1) Tyler Yaremchuk had the chance to interview Yamamoto when the Spokane Chiefs were in town to play the Oil Kings.
2) After the Oilers’ development camp, Yamamoto spoke to the media about his goal being a full-time roster spot in 2018-19.
3) Yamamoto’s third season in Spokane put his name in the team’s records books.
4) In his own words, Yamamoto told the Oilers, “You gotta draft me or I’m going to come back to haunt you.”
- Future Considerations: 15th (final)
- ISS: 26th (May)
- Bob McKenzie: 23rd (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 16th (final)
- The Hockey News: 24th (final)
- CanucksArmy Prospect Countdown: 12th
VIDEO AND HIGHLIGHTS
As we’ve seen all summer, Edmonton Future Watch has a wonderful compilation of Yamamoto highlights from the 2017-18 season:
A compilation of Yamamoto’s work at the 2018 World Junior Championship:
The WHL also put together a highlight pack from last season:
|2013-14||Los Angeles Jr. Kings U16||T1EHL U16||34||17||23||40||14|
|2014-15||U.S. National U17 Team||USDP||7||3||4||7||2|
|2015-16||U.S. National U18 Team||USDP||9||7||7||14||12|
|2010-11||Los Angeles Selects (Peewee)||QC Int PW||2||1||2||3||0|
|USA U18||Hlinka Gretzky Cup||4||4||3||7||14||2|