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Scouting the Winnipeg Jets 2017 NHL Draft: Kailer Yamamoto prospect profile

Our last prospect profile highlights Spokane Chiefs’ winger Kailer Yamamoto

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


As pure a scorer as you will find in this draft class, Kailer Yamamoto rounds out our tenth and final prospect profile leading into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Though he is lacking in terms of size, he is believed by many scouts to be a very gifted skater with high hockey awareness, most prominently in the offensive zone. His low centre of gravity makes it more difficult for his opponents to knock him off the puck and he does more than hold his own in one-on-one battles. He has a very good release on his shot and is a prime candidate to be selected anywhere from the middle to the end of the first round.

Scouting Report via Jeff Marek:

A shifty, dynamic scorer who has a great shot at winning the WHL scoring title next season. Lacks size (5-foot-9), but such a skilled player.

Fun Fact:

Kailer’s older brother Keanu played alongside him with the Spokane Chiefs the past two seasons where he scored 48 goals in 173 games.

Why a fit with the Winnipeg Jets:

If there is one essential thread that links most Winnipeg Jets’ first round selections it’s the abundance of skill and production at the junior level that binds them. Yamamoto becomes a fit for this exclusive reason as finished his WHL season with 42 goals and 99 points. Selecting Yamamoto here would be akin to 2014 when they selected Nikolaj Ehlers at the ninth overall selection, though Ehlers’ draft stock was much higher than Yamamoto. Depending on how the board falls one week from today, a gamble in the young American winger might not be the craziest thing to have happen.

Cons to the selection:

Unlike Nikolaj Ehlers (6’0”), Kailer Yamamoto is of diminutive stature standing at only 5’8”. A better comparable perhaps would be fellow Chiefs’ alum, Tyler Johnson. It’s not to say that Yamamoto cannot be successful in today’s NHL, as we do see a shift to smaller, faster, more skilled players becoming a commonality. The rub, however, is that the risk v. reward in this selection probably doesn’t materialize in Winnipeg’s favour at the thirteenth pick. In a vacuum where there are actually teams stumbling over each other to move up the draft board (note: given the perceived depth of this draft, I see this as unlikely) to select in the middle of the first round, it might behoove the Jets to pick up a little extra capital, move back, and select Yamamoto at a point later in the round.

Career Statistics

2013-14 Los Angeles Jr. Kings U16 T1EHL U16 34 17 23 40 14
2014-15 Spokane Chiefs WHL 68 23 34 57 50
Playoffs Spokane Chiefs WHL 6 2 3 5 6
U.S. National U17 Team USDP 7 3 4 7 2
USA U17 WHC-17 6 3 3 6 2
USA U17 (all) International-Jr 4 0 6 6 2
2015-16 Spokane Chiefs WHL 57 19 52 71 34
Playoffs Spokane Chiefs WHL 6 1 4 5 10
U.S. National U18 Team USDP 9 7 7 14 12
USA U18 WJC-18 7 7 6 13 12
2016-17 Spokane Chiefs WHL 65 42 57 99 46