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2019 Copper And Blue Top 25 Under 25: #9 - Kailer Yamamoto

The undersized forward has impressed in camp for two consecutive seasons...will 2019/20 finally be his year?

Now we’re in the homestretch!

We kicked off the top 10 yesterday with a look at Jesse Puljujarvi (who coincidentally enough signed on with Karpat of the Liiga yesterday as well) and today we will shine the spotlight on another recent 1st-round pick: Kailer Yamamoto.

Yamamoto has looked excellent his first two NHL training camps but has yet to put it all together in regular season action.

Will 2019/20 finally be the year that Yamamoto breaks into the league? Lets take a look at the player.

Who Is Kailer Yamamoto?

The Edmonton Oilers drafted Kailer Yamamoto 22nd overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent his draft year playing in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs, putting up an impressive 99pts in 65 games played. To compare, those 99pts surpassed all the other CHL players chosen before Yamamoto. It was a selection that was met with mixed reactions. The upside, obviously, was the offensive numbers and instincts that Yamamoto brought to the game. However, the one glaring issue with Yamamoto is something that he has no control over: his size.

There is a very good chance that if Yamamoto wasn’t 5 foot 8 he would’ve gone in the top 10 of his draft class. When Edmonton selected him, Yamamoto became the shortest 1st round draft pick in league history.

Despite this concern, an impressive pre-season propelled him onto the team’s opening night roster, although it was short-lived. His first NHL preseason stint saw him notch 7pts in 6 games played (good enough for 2nd on the team behind Connor McDavid) yet he only saw 9 regular season games before being sent back to Spokane.

Back in the WHL things did not start off as expected. Yamamoto sputtered early on and looked out-of-place. The transition from the NHL back down to the WHL was not kind. This drought would eventually pass after Yamamoto participated for Team USA in the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships. While his performance was rather lacklustre in the tournament (4pts in 7 games) his offensive abilities kicked into high gear when he came back to Spokane in January 2018. He would finish off the year with 68pts in 40 games.

Last season started off on yet another good note. Yamamoto was among one of the best players in camp and put up 9pts in 6 games. This, once again, landed him on the team’s opening night roster. He would last a little longer this time around, playing 17 games in Edmonton, but he would eventually be sent to the AHL to play with Bakersfield. Production with the Condors was encouraging but a wrist injury would cut his season short. In total, Kailer Yamamoto notched 18pts in 27 games played in his first full professional season.

As he rehabs this summer the expectation is that he will once again make a strong case to make the team out of camp.

Why At #9?

Kailer Yamamoto is one of the most intriguing prospects in Edmonton’s system right now. The concerns about his size, although valid, do not take away the terrific offensive instincts that Yamamoto possess. Apart from his raw skillset he is also quite a fiesty player for his size and doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff that many other players his size would steer clear of. He is coming off a wrist injury that cut his season short last year so if there is a drop off in “preseason performance” I wouldn’t look too much into it.

He hasn’t made a serious impression on the NHL quite yet but, with a little more time in the AHL, I think he could turn into a player in the same vein as Montreal’s Brenden Gallagher. That is obviously a best-case scenario at this point but I am a real big believer in Kailer Yamamoto.

Who knows...maybe he tears it up in camp once again and finally continues to light the lamp when October 2nd rolls around.

Stay Tuned!

This is where we get into the thick of things!

While we have already covered some VERY good Edmonton Oiler prospects, the cream of the crop lies ahead!

Who will land at the #8 spot tomorrow? Leave a comment below and let me know!