Is it time for Yamamoto to head down to Bakersfield? Yup! It’s what’s best for the player; it’s what’s best for the team right now. Yamamoto hasn’t looked completely out of place but I also think he doesn’t look like a guy who 100% belongs in the NHL. He’s a tweener right now and that’s ok.
“Playing with two guys like myself and Leon can be intimidating at times, it’s good to see him get in there, he’s not afraid to get in those areas on the forecheck in front of the net and be able to create those penalties. It’s just a matter of time until he finds the back of the net,” is what Milan Lucic had to say when I asked him about his young linemate after practice on Monday.
Lucic is right, it is just a matter of time until he finds the back of the net, I just think it should be with the Condors. The organization should feel this way as well. All of the things Lucic pointed out about Yamamoto’s games are why he will be a good NHLer one day, just not today.
The former Spokane Chief is seventh in ice-time among forwards but has just four shots In four games and is -3 in the early stages of the season. In 13 career NHL games, Yamamoto has not found the back of the net, he needs to get his offence going and it doesn’t have to be here in Edmonton. It should be in Bakersfield.
Yamamoto’s CF% through the first four games is 47.30, which is higher than both of his linemates but still not good enough to justify keeping him around. He’s been on the ice for 12 shots for and 21 shots against.
There doesn’t seem to be a reason to still have him here in Edmonton and the fact that he’s still here doesn’t make sense to me. It’s better for him and the organization long term for Yamamoto to be learning how to play the pro game in Bakersfield. He could get top line minutes, build his confidence and develop chemistry with the likes of Benson and Marody.
If McLellan wants to mix up the top six but keep Yamamoto around does it make sense to play him in the bottom six? Probably not. What would Yamamoto provide in the bottom six that you can’t get from Tobias Rieder or a guy like Alex Chiasson who is patiently waiting for a chance to play?
The only place Yamamoto fits right now would be next to Draisaitl and it doesn’t appear to be working, don’t drag this out longer than it has too.
What’s wrong with this?
Nuge – McDavid – Rattie
Lucic – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Caggiula – Strome – Rieder
Khaira – Brodziak – Chiasson/Kassian
I know many of you will suggest moving Lucic down to the third line. I can see a Lucic move eventually happening but he looks better than he did in the second half of the last season so I’d ride that out right now.
I know there has been speculation that McDavid and Draisaitl don’t like playing with Puljujarvi because he hasn’t adjusted to the North American style of game yet but at this point, Draisiatl should be willing to play with anyone who can help create offensive opportunities.
WHO COMES UP?
If Yamamoto is on the way down to Bakersfield who’s on the return flight back to Edmonton? The answer is an easy one, Ethan Bear.
With the way the bottom end of the blue line has looked so far this season it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have eight d-men around. I’m not sure exactly how you would manage the four guys fighting for bottom pairing ice-time but maybe it ends up being something like this.
Nurse – Bouchard
Russell – Bear
Extras: Benning, Garrison
Garrison played less than nine minutes against the Jets so I’m sure they’d like to take him out of the lineup. The issue the Oilers are facing is if you want to keep Russell with Nurse then you would need some sort of duo out of Benning, Bouchard and Bear to team up on the third pair and that’s not ideal.
IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
Once again this is not a negative and shouldn’t be looked at that way by any of the parties involved.
For the organization, they would be allowing one of their top prospects to properly develop.
For Yamamoto, it’s an opportunity to be the big man on campus with a professional team, something he’s never had the chance to do.
For Rieder it would be a chance to find a permanent home in the top nine, a role I think he is best suited for.
For Chiasson and Kassian, it allows them to battle it out for the 12th spot in the forward group.
For Ethan Bear, it provides the best chance he’s had to become a full-time NHLer.
Most importantly I honestly believe it gives the team a better chance to win hockey games right now, which should be priority number one.
Anyone care to tell me why this would be a bad idea?