2020 must’ve been a whirlwind for Kailer Yamamoto.
After what seemed like forever (it was actually eleven straight years without a playoff berth), the Oilers didn’t pick until 22nd overall in the 2017 Draft. They opted for Kailer Yamamoto, a skilled winger from Spokane. Yamamoto had just finished a season with the Spokane Chiefs where he finished with 99 points in 65 games to lead his club in scoring. After a nine game tryout, he’d spend another year with the Chiefs. 2018-19 saw him spend significant time in Bakersfield, where he’d put up 18 points in 27 games. A gifted scorer with speed and a can-do attitude, Yamamoto burst onto the scene for the Oilers in 2020. With just 26 NHL games to his résumé, Yamamoto was called up to the big club for a New Year’s Eve matchup against the Rangers on December 31st, 2019. Yamamoto put an empty netter in for the Oilers in a wild 7-5 victory for the Oilers. From that moment on, the remainder of the season was going to be a wild ride for Yamamoto and the Oilers.
In just 27 games for the Oilers, Kailer Yamamoto averaged nearly a point per game on a line most often with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins named the DRY line. Yamamoto scored 11 goals en route to his 26 points, he shot the lights out in the process. Those eleven goals came on just 44 shots, giving him a whopping 25 shooting percentage. That’s completely unrepeatable, but it looked like good things were in the cards.
I’m a big fan of keeping things together when they’re going good. Sometimes this bucks conventional wisdom, but the 93-29-56 line was spicy in 2019-20. I would have had that line on the ice early and often throughout 2021, but Dave Tippett would only dabble in putting this trio back together. Often Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was on the top line with Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujärvi for significant amounts of time during the season, while offseason acquisition Dominik Kahun would play the opposite side wing while Yamamoto was on the ice. Yamamoto spent a little bit more than 75% of his even-strength ice time with Leon Draisaitl, which might make you wonder how Yamamoto could finish with just 21 points in 52 games this season while Leon raked 84 in 56 games played.
An 82 game season had Yamamoto finishing with about 29 points last year. It’s not a whole lot, especially if you’re planning on Yamamoto being an every day top six winger. As I mentioned with Jesse Puljujärvi a couple of days ago, things are at least somewhat the way they are due to reasons out of Yamamoto’s control. Yamamoto averaged just about sixteen and a half minutes a night in total ice time, he played exactly nineteen minutes more than Jesse Puljujärvi did over the entire season. You’ll recall Puljujärvi not getting a whole lot of power play time in 2021, Kailer Yamamoto got less. Yamamoto played about a quarter as much as Alex Chiasson did, and it showed in the numbers. Yamamoto scored just two points with the man advantage (1-1-2), it showed in his boxcars. Like Puljujarvi, some more power play time likely would have helped Yamamoto’s overall numbers. Things went the way they did, and now we’re here.
There was no way that Yamamoto was going to continue kicking that 25 shooting percentage over the course of a whole season. The good thing about his 2021 numbers? You’re getting almost all even strength Yamamoto in the results. Any power play time will likely put some more numbers on top of last season’s 30 point even strength projection; a season that saw Yamamoto shoot a much more realistic 11% while at evens.
I’m not sure where Yamamoto’s agent is on negotiations, but I’m sure that his client would like something a bit more than to sign a qualifying offer. It might come down to that, as Yamamoto has no arbitration rights and the Oilers are up against the wall when it comes to the cap. Things could get messy if this spills into training camp, and we’ve heard Kyle Turris’ name getting tossed into the mix as a possible candidate to play on the wing this year in an effort to resuscitate his time in Edmonton. Alex Chiasson is still unsigned, and (while I’d like for the Oilers to start using more of Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto on special teams this season,) I can absolutely see a scenario where Alex Chiasson is able to find his way back onto the 2021-22 club.
For this exercise, I will assume that a deal gets done before camp. Whether or not Kyle Turris’ name is in the mix, I’ll take Yamamoto’s 30 point even strength scoring pace, and I’ll add some power play time into the mix. Over an 82 game season, I like Kailer Yamamoto to score 38 points (13-25-38) with a chance to push for 40.
Assume 82 games played (and a contract is signed). How many points will Kailer Yamamoto score in 2021-22?
This poll is closed
29 or less