One has to wonder how long the Edmonton Oilers will remain patient with forward Kailer Yamamoto? A player who does a lot of the little things right, that only goes so far when he’s supposed to be producing offensively in the Oilers top six and isn’t. While the team is winning, Yamamoto won’t be getting a free pass and should he not start giving himself a chance to score, he could lose his spot on the roster, perhaps even become a trade asset the Oilers would be willing to move.
It would be one thing if Yamamoto was shooting and the puck simply wasn’t going in. The Oilers might believe fortunes would change. Unfortunately, that isn’t happening. In 16:25 seconds of ice time during a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks, Yamamoto registered no shots on goal. To make matters worse, he’s got 10 shots in seven total games this season. That’s simply not enough.
Yamamoto is working hard and he’s taking fewer penalties than he did at the start of the year, but he’s expected to contribute offensively while playing beside Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Draisaitl is fourth in NHL scoring, while Nuge leads the NHL in assists. Yamamoto should be getting something done.
The question in Edmonton is now how long do the Oilers wait? While they’re winning, they can perhaps wait a little longer than they normally would. At the same time, the Oilers need that second line to roll and with every other line doing their part, Yamamoto’s leash is only so long. As Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal points out, “Edmonton is almost halfway to the quarter pole. If he hasn’t snapped out of this by the 20-game mark at the latest, I think a change will be made.”
What Would Be the Change?
Leavins rightfully asks what the Oilers’ options would be. It makes little sense to switch up the first and third lines. They’re doing their part and finding success. There’s also not a clear replacement available that is sitting on the sidelines or down on the fourth line.
And, if you gave a shot to someone like Brendan Perlini or Tyler Benson, what happens with Yamamoto? Do you put him on the fourth line? Maybe. He digs and is aggressive, but he’s a skilled player that is more useful with other skilled players.
The good news is that the Oilers have time. The bad news for Yamamoto is that the team isn’t messing around. They want to win and they want to be firing on all cylinders. He’s the only player who really isn’t.
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