2017 Draft Profile:
Born: September 29, 1998
Hometown: Spokane, Wash.
Team: Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
CSS Rank: 17th among North American Skaters
Detractors will say Spokane Chiefs right winger Kailer Yamamoto's size isn't cut out for the National Hockey League. There are plenty of reasons why the 2017 NHL Draft prospect - ranked 17th among North American skaters by Central Scouting - shows promise, and could still be in play if the Oilers reach the podium and keep the 22nd-overall pick at the United Center in Chicago, Ill.
Playing for his hometown Chiefs, Yamamoto exercised his offensive ability for the past three seasons in the Western Hockey League, surpassing his previous point totals in each new campaign. He set career-highs in goals (42), assists (57) and points (99) in the 2016-17 season and some scouts are drawing resemblance to Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.
"He's an excellent player," a scout told The Hockey News. "He has great hockey sense and skates well. The big thing is size. Gaudreau carries the play more, but Kailer has really good touch around the puck. He's not shy, but he's smart enough not to get caught in the railroad tracks."
A glimpse of his 2016-17 highlight reel and the NHL comparisons continue. Yamamoto seemingly has the finesse of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, fused with a nose for the net akin to Montreal Canadiens energizer Brendan Gallagher.
Either way, Yamamoto's play intrigues the scouts observing him.
"He's an opportunistic player," another scout said to The Hockey News. "You don't notice him, but then he's got three points on the night. He's not overly physical. He gets to the quiet areas. The question is, will he be a top-line forward all the time?"
Not only has the Spokane, Wash., product been able to produce for his hometown, he's also played for the U.S. National under-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in 2015-16. In seven games at the tournament, Yamamoto compiled seven goals and six assists for 13 points.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"A pint-sized, yet dynamic, playmaker… small, speedy forward with excellent hockey sense and quick hands…has a strong work ethic that keeps him going…great overall quickness, first-step jump to create separation and an ability to alter speeds to create gaps…sneaky and stealth-like in finding prime scoring ice…very creative with the puck and shows off creative hands…uses his size to squeak through the tightest of holes…is a force in possession as he likes the puck on his stick, and is dangerous as a set-up man or shooter in the offensive zone…poised, clutch and aware…feisty on the forecheck, not physically, but uses his speed to force opponents into rushed plays while clogging up passing lanes with an active stick…one of those rare wingers who has the ability to affect the flow of a game like a center…a very special talent, high octane and cerebral." - Future Considerations.