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Oilers Player Report Card - #56 Kailer Yamamoto

June 12, 2020, 12:29 PM ET [10 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on Kailer Yamamoto, detailing what his path to the NHL could look like. At 5'7 and less than 160lbs, it was always going to be a challenge for the diminutive winger, but I noted a number of players who had done such including Johnny Gaudreau, Tyler Johnson, and Cam Atkinson. The one thing they all had in common was that they weren't impact players in the NHL until they turned 21.

Kailer Yamamoto turned 21 this past September and made his full time jump to the NHL at the end of December. The results were revolutionary for this team.

KAILER YAMAMOTO
27GP: 11-15-26

While it might sound like hyperbole to state that Kailer Yamamoto saved the Edmonton Oilers season this year... it almost isn't. From December 31st, when Yamamoto joined the team, through to the end of the season, the Edmonton Oilers had the 5th most wins and the 6th best point percentage in the NHL. The line of RNH, Draisaitl, and Yamamoto was one of the most lethal trios during the second half of the season and was still the Oilers second line.

This is a Yamamoto review so let's talk about his individual achievements.

Yamamoto played at a near point per game pace with 26 points through 27 games. 9 of his 11 goals were scored at even strength, as were all 15 of his assists. The biggest stand-out here is his shooting percentage of 25% with 11 goals on 44 shots. While that is abnormally high and unsustainable, Yamamoto also averaged less than 2 shots a game (44 shots). I would expect his shot generation to increase in the future which should help to balance and maintain the production he had this season.

+/- isn't the best stat to simply throw out as a positive or a negative for a player, but Yamamoto led the Oilers with a +17. The next best player for the Oilers was Matt Benning with a +8. Put another way, when Yamamoto was on the ice at 5 on 5 for the Oilers, the team produced 30 goals, while only allowing 14, giving him a team leading GF% of 68.18%. He also led the team in scoring chances for with a SCF% of 52.26%. When Yamamoto was on the ice, great things happened.

Earlier in the year, I did a shift by shift breakdown for Kailer Yamamoto versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the young forward did not appear on the scoresheet for the Oilers, he was their most dangerous forward that night at both ends of the ice. His speed and tenacity and unique assets on this roster and though he will never physically overpower another player, he doesn't need to with his IQ and stick checking ability.

Leon Draisaitl was having a phenomenal season before Kailer joined the team but when the duo came together, Leon continued and improved on his torrid pace. His possession numbers, scoring chances for, goals for %, the list goes on, all improved drastically when paired with Yamamoto.

The exact same goes for Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent Hopkins. In 328 minutes of 5 on 5 play together, RNH and Yamamoto were on the ice for 28 goals for and only 9 against, for a 75.68 GF%. There is so much more detail I could go into here but the short and simple truth is that this line dominated heavily together.

This breakout season by Kailer Yamamoto was huge for the Edmonton Oilers, as it gave the team another true top six winger that allowed the team to split it's offense onto multiple lines. The only real negative I can come up with is that the season was cut short and prevented us from seeing Yamamoto continue to rack up the points.

FINAL GRADE: A+
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