Spokane Chiefs forward Kailer Yamamoto scored 99 points, including 42 goals, during the 2016-17 regular season to prove his status as a top prospect ahead of this weekend’s 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.
A fifth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, the Spokane native and Mead High School graduate has flourished in the WHL, scoring 227 career points (84 goals, 143 assists) in 190 career games over three seasons. His 2016-17 campaign placed him sixth on the league’s scoring list (first in the Western Conference) and pushed him into the Chiefs’ franchise record book in multiple categories, including points (17th), assists (16th) and points per game (12th).
His outstanding season plus a strong showing at the NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game in January as well as this month’s NHL Combine in Buffalo have Yamamoto poised to hear his name called early at the draft.
Yamamoto is noticed for his speed and skill. He has great vision on the ice and gets teammates the puck in good places to score. His shot improved significantly from his rookie season to his draft year. His size (5-foot-8) is often cited against him, but Yamamoto can often use that size to his advantage, squeezing through tight spaces and changing direction to create space.
From Future Considerations:
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.
From Craig Button / TSN:
“Diminutive, highly skilled winger who makes things happen offensively and is elusive.”
NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters): 17th
ISS Hockey: 26th
Future Considerations: 15th
Sports Illustrated: 6th
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 24th
Yamamoto is usually projected to be drafted somewhere in the mid-late first round, depending on which mock draft you prefer. Sportsnet has him going 22nd to Edmonton, as does Bleacher Report. He went 14th to Tampa Bay in SB Nation’s pick-by-pick mock, while Joe Haggarty at CSSNE has him going 25th to Montreal.
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Follow the Draft
The 2017 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Chicago on June 23 and 24. The first round will begin at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) on Friday the 23rd, while rounds 2-7 will take place beginning at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT) on Saturday the 24th.
TV: NBCSN (Friday; coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. PT) / NHL Network (Saturday)