The Edmonton Oilers need to get Kailer Yamamoto away from Leon Draisaitl

Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 months ago
Sometimes, you have to do what’s best for the team.
And what’s best for the Edmonton Oilers is separating Kailer Yamamoto from Leon Draisaitl. It’d be a tough sell as both players love to play with each other, but the truth is that one is affecting the other and that’s why the Oilers need to move Yamamoto away from Draisaitl.
Both of them are great players, just in very different ways. Draisaitl is a bruising forward with one of the best shots in the entire league. He creates space for himself and his linemates and is impossible to strip the puck from.
Yamamoto, meanwhile, is a speedy, shifty, and physical forward who excels at retrieving pucks. He isn’t the most offensively gifted player by any means, but is slightly above average when it comes to his shot and ability to set up teammates. Despite that, he’s not a great driver of player in either ends of the ice.
And truth be told, Yamamoto’s been a drag on Draisaitl’s numbers.
Here’s a look at Draisaitl’s 5×5 numbers and how they compare with, and without Yamamoto from last season.
TOI with/withoutCF%Draisaitl CF% withoutYamamoto CF% withoutGF%Draisaitl GF% withoutYamamoto GF% withoutxGF%Draisaitl xGF% withoutYamamoto xGF% without
The numbers are stark. When it comes to shot attempt share, Draisaitl’s numbers jump 5.61 percent without Yamamoto. His goal share jumps 3.64 percent. His expected goal share jumps a staggering 9.4 percent. These numbers are staggering when it comes to offensive output and alone should be enough consideration to move Yamamoto off Draisaitl’s wing.
I wonder if putting Yamamoto alongside Ryan McLeod on the Oilers third line would work. It could instantly become a tough-to-play against checking line given both players’ relentless work ethic. A physical body on the opposite wing like Warren Foegele could round that third line out nicely.
Meanwhile, it would make a ton of sense to put Jesse Puljujarvi on the second line alongside Leon Draisaitl. Similar to Yamamoto, Puljujarvi is a physical forward who excels at retrieving pucks and has a similar set-up ability as Yamamoto.
Puljujarvi was actually Draisaitl’s third most common linemate last season, and the numbers were tremendous.
xGF% without
When on the ice together, these two were an absolute handful for opposing teams and dominated play together. The shot attempt share, goal share and expected goal share are all above 57%.
Jay Woodcroft is going to have his handsful trying to build out the lineup for next season, and one of the easiest ways to do so might be to look at similar WOWY numbers. The Oilers have a number of players who fit a similar bill (physical, strong at retrieving pucks and setting up teammates) with guys like Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, Foegele, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, so it will be curious to see how they deploy them.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

TOI with/withoutCF%Draisaitl CF% withoutPuljujarvi CF% withoutGF%Draisaitl GF% withoutPuljujarvi GF% withoutxGF%Draisaitl xGF% without

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