At #11 we have: Kailer Yamamoto
Here we have another top prospect that I have ranked on the lower end of the voting. Despite my ranking, I do have to specify that Kailer is a player that I’m very excited to have. Yamamoto is a highly skilled winger taken at #22 in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and has spent the past 3 years with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. Since playing with the Chiefs, he’s increased his point total every year including last year where he racked up 99 points in 65 games. Future considerations had this to say:
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.
If you’re not excited yet, watch this:
What have you done for me lately?
Scored 42 goals in the WHL, drew comparisons to Johnny Gaudreau and was a superstar at the World Junior Summer Showcase. As an aside, you shouldn’t put all that much stock into the WJSS unless a player looks really out of place. Yamamoto showed he definitely has what it takes to be a top line player on a World Juniors team. At the 2016 World Junior U18 tournament, he put of 13 points in 7 games. I think we could use a player like that.
Where will he be in the future?
Probably putting up over 100 points in the WHL next year. He should also be on Team USA in the World Juniors, and I’d bet that when that happens we’ll be surprised that he was still available at #22. There’s a very remote chance that he makes the Oilers this year, I don’t think he will but he’ll likely get some preseason games. I think that in the 2018-2019 season he’ll be make the NHL team and remain in the league until he retires. I don’t personally see another two years of junior or any AHL time in his future. He’s just too good already.
The fact that he’s as small as he is — 5’8, 148 lbs — and has managed to avoid serious injury tells me that he is very elusive and uses that size as an asset, not a detriment. He’ll likely bulk up a little bit but he’s never going to break 170lbs until he’s no longer an athlete. This is a player we should all be watching very closely this season. This was a great pick by Peter Chiarelli. Even better that he’s already signed his Entry Level Contract.