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BLOG: Yamamoto gets the stamp of approval

"He's an NHL player. He's a very good NHL player," Leon Draisaitl said of his linemate Kailer Yamamoto

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - It's official: Kailer Yamamoto has received the stamp of approval.

By the admission of his coach and teammates, the diminutive winger is a National Hockey League player.

That's hard to argue given the forward's input in limited action this season. After scoring his fourth goal of the campaign during the hotly-contested Battle of Alberta, Yamamoto now has seven points in nine outings this year.

Yamamoto compiled eight goals and 16 points in 23 matches with the Bakersfield Condors before making his '19-20 debut against the New York Rangers on Dec. 31. The Spokane, WA, product iced that New Year's Eve affair with an empty netter and the Oilers have gone 6-1-2 since then.

To Draisaitl, who's centred Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Yamamoto for the majority of the past month, the evidence is clear.

Video: OILERS TODAY | 4 for 44 01.30.19

"He's an NHL player. He's a very good NHL player," said the centre of his winger. "He's been showing it all year that he can play. Our line has been pretty good for the most part. We've been producing and generating chances. He's been a big part of that. 

"He belongs in the NHL." 

Draisaitl experienced a similar path to the Oilers in the 2015-16 season. The Deutschland Dangler began the year in the American Hockey League - suiting up in six games and registering one goal and one assist - then was recalled to the Orange & Blue. Draisaitl went on to compete in 72 games with the Oilers that season, scoring 19 goals, 51 points and becoming an everyday contributor.

"It's great to see he stuck with it while he was down there," Draisaitl said. "He worked on his game, came up here and had the confidence to make an impact. That's what you want from young players coming up. He's only going to get better from here."

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 01.30.20

Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett gave Yamamoto 17:50 of ice time in the third edition of the Battle of Alberta on Wednesday. The bench boss had no problem ordering the young winger out late in the tied game and even started Yamamoto and Draisaitl when the 3-on-3 overtime session began.

The Oilers coach expressed his thoughts about Yamamoto on Thursday following Edmonton's optional skate.

"I think he probably would have been here earlier but he missed all of Training Camp," Tippett said. "He came in and did little things that allow you to be a good player in a game and allow a coach to trust you in those situations. When a player does that and contributes to your lineup, he usually stays there."

Tippett, before his media avail concluded, provided the final stamp.

"He really looks like an NHL player to me."

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