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Play Him Or Send Him Back

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If Kailer Yamamoto is on this club, he needs to be in the lineup. If he’s being scratched, send him back to Spokane.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers
After six and a half minutes of ice time versus Calgary, Kailer Yamamoto was a healthy scratch in Vancouver.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers suffered their first loss of the season by a 3-2 margin last night in Vancouver.

It wasn’t a particularly good night for anyone on the club, though Kris Russell had a goal and and a power play assist (!!). Cam Talbot was replaced in net by Laurent Brossoit, the top line wasn’t able to muster anything on the scoreboard, and Vancouver took a game that the Oilers will need to win if they’re going to entertain any ideas about being atop the Pacific this year.

Edmonton didn’t have very many lineup changes from their opener, a game that saw them defeat the Flames at home by a 3-0 margin. They did have one change, ,and that was to scratch Kailer Yamamoto from the lineup in favour of Iiro Pakarinen.

WHAT

Yamamoto didn’t play very much in his professional debut on Wednesday. He had just 6:33 of ice time, with less than 30 seconds of that coming in the third period. Rookie jitters? Maybe. Protected deployment? Could be. Yamamoto finished without a shot in the game, the Oilers would eventually go on to win after Connor McDavid tucked the puck into a yawning net for the hat trick in the dying minutes of the third.

Six minutes and change, Yamamoto would get another shot to do his thing in Vancouver, right? Coach had other ideas. Zack Kassian was moved to the top six, while Iiro Pakarinen was brought in to play alongside Mark Letestu and Jujhar Khaira. While Pakarinen is here on 13th forward duty, I’m not real wild about moving Zack Kassian anywhere near the top six. If you’re not willing to put the kid who had a killer preseason into the lineup for game 2 of the regular season, what’s he doing here?

PLAY HIM OR SEND HIM BACK

I have a hard time recalling the last instance where the Oilers had only 22 players on the roster to open the season. But it happened this year! Anton Slepyshev was recalled last night, and his appearance could determine if Chiarelli will send Yamamoto back to Spokane for the year. Slepyshev is the most likely candidate to slip into the 2RW position if Yamamoto is out of the lineup. And if Yamamoto is out of the lineup, he needs to be in the lineup in Spokane.