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NHL Draft

2017 Draft diary: Kailer Yamamoto

Oilers' first-round pick calls experience in Chicago 'amazing'

by Kailer Yamamoto / Special to

Kailer Yamamoto, a forward who was ranked No. 17 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft and played for Spokane of the Western Hockey League, has maintained a monthly draft diary for leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas at United Center in Chicago on Friday. In his final post, Yamamoto writes about Draft day and being selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the 22nd pick. 
What an amazing day. 

It started when I got up about 6:45 a.m. We had a player breakfast meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and he talked for about 30 minutes. He said we should just take it all in, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to cherish every moment you get. Don't just go over it and don't forget about it. Make sure you're taking it all in and make sure that you're catching every detail of it so you can remember for the rest of your life. 

I sat with my family and the family of my Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Going there and being able to sit with him and be able to joke around with him in the morning, it was unbelievable. Definitely took the edge off of me. 

Video: Kailer Yamamoto talks with NHL Tonight

When we were done breakfast I went to the gym for a little bit, tried to get some of the nerves out. Then it was time for a quick nap. Slept for about an hour and a half; didn't want to go too long and waste the day. Around 1 p.m. or so me and my family went to Giordano's for some pizza. 

After lunch we just hung around the hotel for a bit. At 4:30 p.m. we all piled into a shuttle bus and came over to United Center. We hung out for a little bit outside, took pictures and stuff, and then we went in and sat down. That's when the nerves kicked in a little bit. 

When they got to pick 20, 21, I wanted to go, but I was definitely hoping that I was there until 22 so I could go to the Edmonton Oilers, and thank goodness. It was unbelievable I went there and I'm super happy about it. 

After they called my name the first person I hugged was my mom. She's been there, been my biggest supporter my whole life. She is the best lady I've ever met. 

I also thought about my grandpa. He shared the same dream as me, get drafted to the NHL and make the NHL. My first thought was him. He's been my biggest supporter since I was a little kid, took me to hockey ever since I was 2 years old. Being able to have him watch me on TV, go up on stage, was unbelievable. I couldn't thank him enough. 

When I was going up the steps Commissioner Bettman said "welcome to the NHL." After that I got a little bit of chills down my back. Then I got to shake everybody's hand on stage, including Wayne Gretzky. It's a dream come true to be able to shake hands with the best player in the world. That's something else that I'll never forget the rest of my life. 

Playing with the Oilers means hopefully getting the chance to play with Connor McDavid. He's a generational player. If I get the opportunity to play with him I'll work my tail off for him and hopefully I'll be able to make him a better player. I know for a fact he'll make me a better player.
Next for me is to head home to Spokane for a little bit. I have a week off until development camp. I'm going to go back, keep working out, keep getting bigger and stronger and keep working toward making the Oilers hopefully this season, but if not hopefully next season. 

Thanks for following along all season. 

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