For such a small player, Kailer Yamamoto sure plays a big game. The 5’7”, 148 lb forward selected 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is, by all accounts, the smallest player ever selected in the first round of the draft. Which is ironic, as he may be the biggest steal in the entire draft.
The speedy winger had an incredible season in the WHL for his hometown Spokane Chiefs in 2016-17 scoring 42 goals and 99 points in just 65 games. Scouts have called him the best natural skater in the draft, a distinction that he owes to Debbie Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning star Tyler Johnson’s mother. Debbie was Yamamoto’s power-skating coach when the youngster was growing up in Spokane.
The sky is the limit for Yamamoto in terms of NHL success. As evidenced by other small players like Johnson, Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Kane, smaller players can survive, and indeed thrive, in the NHL now that speed and scoring is at such a premium. Oilers fans are certainly hoping that the 18 year old’s game can transfer from the WHL to the NHL level.