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2017 NHL Draft Profile: Small frame be damned, Kailer Yamamoto’s dynamic skill should put him on Red Wings list

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Spokane Chiefs v Calgary Hitmen Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

I’ve been waiting to talk about this kid for quite some time. Kailer Yamamoto’s a kid who seethes skill and talent, but isn’t high on many draft lists due to his size. It’s fair, because he is a small guy, but I feel like there is a prospect like him in every draft — tremendously talented but not highly-touted because he doesn’t meet the NHL’s amorous relationship with size. Much like Alex Debrincat last year, who fell to 39th overall, then proceeded to score 65 goals (127 points total) in 62 OHL games, earning him the Eddie Powers Trophy — and now I guarantee you there are at least 15-or-so teams kicking themselves for not taking Debrincat earlier. I see the same story in Yamamoto.

Player vitals

Name: Kailer Yamamoto
Position: C/LW
Date of birth: 9/28/98 (18 years old)
Birthplace: Spokane, Washington
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 159 lbs.
NHL comparable: Johnny Gaudreau

Rankings

ISS Hockey: 22
McKeen’s Hockey: 29
Future Considerations: 15
NHL CSS: 17 (North America)

Player analysis

Size be damned, Kailer Yamamoto brings a game-changing element to every shift he plays. He’s a speedy, shifty, dynamic talent who can let the numbers speak for him. Kailer put up 99 points (42-57-99) with the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL, which includes 35 of those points on the power play.

Yamamoto’s shifty style of skating allows him to create gaps to burn defenders with — that’s the game-changing element I’m talking about, and even though he doesn’t have a big frame, he knows how to use his size to his advantage. I’ve heard some describe Kailer Yamamoto as “slippery” which tells me he’s developed a way around defenders using his pint-sized build. Whether or not that translates to the NHL will be a big question.

Highlights

Credit: NHL Prospects YouTube


The Red Wings will not draft Yamamoto at 9th overall, and I’m not sure they’ll draft him at all. They’ve made it pretty clear that they’re interested in drafting players with size, which is a shame because I think dynamic talent like this is something the Wings desperately need. At any rate, I don’t see Yamamoto being a high pick. He might even fall to the 2nd round.

If I were a smart and handsome general manager, I’d entertain the idea of trading down in the 1st round and locking up a prospect like Kailer Yamamoto while adding another selection to play with later in the Draft, but I am not a smart and handsome GM. I am just some dumb nerd with a keyboard and a bunch of people yelling at him about teenage athletes online.

Any-who, I’m just saying... Add 15-or-so pounds and a couple inches to his height, and you’re looking at a top draft pick.