When the Oilers selected Spokane Chiefs forward Kailer Yamamoto 22nd overall, they set history. Standing at just under 5’8″, Yamamoto is the shortest player ever drafted in the first round. One thing he’s not short on? Confidence.
Speaking to a group of reporters after the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli revealed how impressed he was by Yamamoto’s confidence. Specifically, Chiarelli remarked on Yamamoto’s warning; should the Oilers pass on him at 22nd overall, he’ll come back to haunt them.
The Oilers were wise to heed Yamamoto’s warning. When one looks at Yamamoto’s draft season through the lens of the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (or pGPS for short), he has an expected success rate of 46.9% and an expected points per 82 games of 54.5. Those numbers are fitting of a top ten talent. Pass that up in the 20s, and you deserve to suffer the decision.
It’s not just the scoreboard where Yamamoto hurts his opponents, either. Chiarelli didn’t hold back when asked about Yamamoto’s ability to hold up physically.
“Kailer gets after it on the forecheck, and he separates guys from pucks, even with that size.” Chiarelli told reporters. “Kailer can do a lot of things, and he’s a pretty driven kid.”
It’s hard to say whether he’ll hold up physically to the rigours of the NHL. Punching above your weight gets a lot harder in professional hockey. Yamamoto certainly sounds up to the task though.