The Edmonton Oilers secured 2017 first-round pick Kailer Yamamoto to a three-year entry-level contract.
The team announced the deal Thursday.
Yamamoto may be considered undersized at 5-foot-8 and 153 pounds — a fact general manager Peter Chiarelli has acknowledged.
But the 18-year-0ld right winger has done nothing but light up the Western Hockey League as a member of the Spokane Chiefs these past three seasons.
Two years ago, he scored 23 goals and 57 points with the Chiefs. In his draft year, he increased those totals to 42 goals and 99 points. Those are impressive numbers in junior, and there have been a number of smaller-in-stature players (like Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary) that have not only shown they belong in the NHL, but they’ve dominated with their skill.
He is small, but he’s strong and has tremendous heart and skill. We saw him a lot, and he didn’t disappoint,” said Chiarelli, who took Yamamoto to dinner with a few Oilers front office folks on Wednesday.
Chiarelli asked him, “Why should we draft you?” and loved the kid’s answer.
“That’s a standard question you ask, and I’ve never really heard this answer,” the GM laughed. “He said, ‘Because (if you don’t) I’m going to come back and haunt you.’ He’s a pretty confident kid, and he backs it up with his play.”
Yamamoto recently skated for Team USA at the World Junior Summer Showcase.