Welcome back to Top Shelf Hockey Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at winger Kailer Yamamoto.
Kailer Yamamoto really made waves during the 2015-16 season when put up 19 goals and 71 points in just 57 games to lead the Spokane Chiefs in scoring. He was invited to play for Team USA at the 2016 IIHF Under 18 World Championships. Yamamoto scored seven goals and 13 points in just seven games in the tournament, helping the United States to a bronze medal. He also played in the Ivan Hlinka in the summer in 2015, putting up four goals and seven points in four games during that tournament.
After his big coming out party, he’s improved his draft stock with another strong season this year. Yamamoto scored 42 goals and 99 points in just 65 games for the Chiefs. He was one of the brightest spots on a disappointing team that finished 14 points out of the final playoff spot in the WHL Western Conference.
Kailer Yamamoto Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #24
Left Wing — shoots Right
Born September 29, 1998 — Spokane, Washington
Height 5’9″ — Weight 160 lbs [175 cm / 73 kg]
Undersized at just 5’9″, Yamamoto is a tremendous skater. His top end speed is excellent. Yamamoto creates odd-man rushes with his speed, and can beat defenders to the outside and cut to the net. He also is very quick to loose pucks with great acceleration and a really quick first step. His ability to change speeds is a weapon, that can be used to fool defenders on the rush and in the cycle game. Excellent edge work and great agility also allow him to be extremely elusive in one-on-one situations. Yamamoto has a low centre of gravity, which helps him maintain his balance. He can get stronger, so that he is not pushed around along the boards at higher levels.
Yamamoto has tremendous hands, he is a great stick handler and can bury goals in tight to the goalie. He can make quick dekes in very tight spaces, helping him to beat defenders as well as goaltenders. Excellent hand-eye co-ordination allows Yamamoto to tip pucks on net. He has developed a harder shot this year, but could still use a bit more power before being ready for the pro game. Added muscle in his upper body, could help this happen. The release on his wrist shot and snap shot is very quick, and this helps him to fool goaltenders. He can release the puck without much of a wind-up at all.
Yamamoto is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He uses his quickness and stick handling to open up passing lanes. He has tremendous vision, and once an opening presents itself, he has the skill necessary feather a tape-to-tape pass to a teamate. Yamamoto has very good hockey IQ. He sees plays developing and takes advantage of those openings as they present themselves. His ability to extend plays in the offensive zone allows his teammates to get open.
Yamamoto’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. His smaller size can be a bit of a liability as he can be pushed around by bigger, stronger players. This will likely always be an issue, but can be improved with some added strength. That said he is not afraid to battle for loose pucks as well as become involved along the boards. He is an extremely hard worker who is involved in his own zone. Once he does get the puck, he can transition quickly to offense.
Projection and Comparison
Kailer Yamamoto is a high-risk, high-reward type of pick. His skill level is very high, and if he develops properly, he can be an excellent addition to a team’s top six. However, the size will likely always be a bit of an issue, and could hold him back from making a huge impact at the NHL level. In terms of style, his game is similar to Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. This is not a talent comparison though.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #next prospect available on our draft board.