MONTREAL, QC - Instant impact.
Since being recalled on December 29th, Kailer Yamamoto has done it all for the Oilers.
Not only has the winger hit the scoresheet three times (2G, 1A) in his first four games but his play - both with and without the puck - is earning the respect of his fellow teammates.
"He came up with a lot of energy," said Connor McDavid following an afternoon practice in Montreal on Wednesday. "He's hitting guys, creating plays, opening up ice for his linemates and even finding ways to score a couple.
"He's been great."
And when asked about the most underrated aspect of his game:
"I would say his physicality," said the captain. "I think the first thing people think about with Yamo is his size - he's a little bit of a smaller guy but he brings a lot of energy and hits guys that are maybe twice his size.
"We definitely admire that."
Video: OILERS TODAY | Yamamotivated 01.08.20
Head Coach Dave Tippett has tasked Yamamoto with 14:46 TOI per game while playing in a top-six role alongside Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 21-year-old has shown signs of growth and maturity following off-season rehab for a wrist surgery late last season.
"He's a smart player," said Tippett. "He reads situations well and makes good plays with the puck. That's why you see a guy like Draisaitl likes to play with him because he can play a give-and-go game and makes intelligent plays. Along with tenacity, he gets to the front of the net, he finds loose pucks.
"He's willing to work."
Yamamoto also had to work his way up.
The 5-foot-8, 158-pound forward tallied 16 points (8G, 8A) in 23 games with the Bakersfield Condors before getting the call-up. He began the season with a four-game goal-scoring streak (4G, 1A) and used a solid start to build momentum throughout the season, eventually leading to a ticket to Edmonton.
"I didn't play the end of last season," said Yamamoto on his wrist injury. "So, going down there (to the AHL), getting my confidence back up and getting my game back to where it needs to be was huge. I give a lot of credit to all of the guys down there (in Bakersfield). The coaching staff helped me out a lot. I'm very thankful for them.
"Now, I'm feeling more comfortable every day with (Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins). It's a really good opportunity. Hopefully, I can run with it."