Kailer Yamamoto scored his fifth goal of the preseason last night and it was easily the most important one. The Carolina Hurricanes represented the most difficult opposition of fall, with several veteran Oilers struggling throughout the contest. Yamamoto provided a spark for the McDavid line (once moved up the depth chart) and scored a terrific power-play marker on a skilled tip. He passed well, was dogged as a checker and for my money Yamamoto was the best Oiler on the ice. He turns 19 on Friday, we still don’t know what city he’ll be in on his birthday. That’s an accomplishment.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Numbers via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.
- Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic had a poor game, Lucic had five giveaways. That can’t happen.
- Anyone concerned about the PK?
- I thought Ryan Strome had a reasonable game. Scored another goal from just outside the crease.
- The pairings (Maroon-97, Lucic-29, Jokinen-93, Letestu-Kassian) appear set, but the rest of the forward group hasn’t found a place to land yet.
- Impressed Todd McLellan didn’t put McDavid with Leon for some 5×5. I bet he does it against Calgary with the Oilers down a goal to start the third period opening night, though.
- Dillon Simpson had some moments of exposure, but recovered quickly and gave a solid account of himself in last night’s very difficult game. I don’t think it gets him on the opening night roster, but he should be fairly high on the recall chain.
- Matt Benning was a terror out there, hitting, blocking shots, sending out myriad headman passes. It was a loss and lots to tighten up but he’s a doer.
- Kris Russell played his game. Some don’t like it, others think it’s grand. I like having a veteran defender out there to help, while also seeing the holes in his game. I don’t see a giant pile of blue pushing to replace him yet.
- The top pair defended too much but beyond that I liked their game.
- Cam Talbot got left out in the cold a lot, the one goal that he was at fault on came after his clearing attempt (it was the shorty). I have no concerns about the goaler.
- Todd McLellan: “I thought he was one of our best forwards again tonight. He just steadily played his game, he got pucks out when he needed to, he made plays, no glaring turnovers. I thought he managed his shift length well, when we had some other guys who milked it, went a little too long. Find a way to get to the blue paint and touch one in for a goal. It’s been impressive watching him.”
This does not sound like a man who is about to send Kailer Yamamoto to the minors. Honestly the one spark we saw last night came when KY moved up to the McDavid line. He’s a determined player with and without the puck, simply won’t give up space or trying to gain possession. Highly intelligent and always seems to be near the puck. Seriously, even in last night’s game the guy either has the puck, is creating a turnover, or is bearing down on the puck carrier. He’s like a live instructional video. Big brain.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
Not long after the draft, I started talking about Kailer Yamamoto as a ‘possible’ solution to the current RW situation. Here’s what I wrote July 13:
- Lowetide blog: I’ve written about the possibility of Yamamoto making the team several times, often get reactions like “why don’t you just be patient?” or “do you seriously believe they would do that?” from readers. First, my preference isn’t really the point. We’re talking about this player and the Oilers organization. The team has been brazen over the last decade in sending kids to the NHL right out of the box. I know this young man is small, but he has terrific speed, something Sam Gagner wasn’t gifted with when the organization gave him a push fall 2007. Taking into account skill set, team need, franchise proclivity, I think there’s a chance this happens. Source
One of the things I wish we could avoid is talking about ideas as if they were a ‘preference’ or ‘something you’d like to see’ instead of the ideas themselves being the discussion point. I think there are organizations that would have ended this experiment before now, would not have even entertained the idea. The Oilers own past suggested they would be more open to the idea and we are here. Kailer Yamamoto earned this, no one can take it away from him. I can say he got a little lucky in getting drafted by an organization that has no qualms about elevating teenagers to the show right out of the box. As of now, Kailer Yamamoto is the most substantial offensive RW in camp. That’s a fact. He flourishes on damned near any line they put him on, he was the best forward on a night the opposition dressed an NHL unit and played a strong game. What’s left for Yamamoto? Moving out of the hotel and into an apartment? We wait.
I'm no Dr., but just saw Andrej Sekera in the press box, walking briskly with no limp.
For a recovering ACL tear, can't be bad news.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) September 26, 2017
Such a beautiful dream. The window of return for Sekera has been all over the map in terms of estimates, but his return by Game 20 versus Game 40 is monu-freaking-mental. That’s a fact.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. A strong guest list, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Kailer Yamamoto’s immediate future.
- Bagged Milk, Oilers Nation/The Nation Network. A major piece of news yesterday, as the Nation Network has been joined by Emmanuel Perry and Corsica. An enormous addition, we’ll talk about what Manny brings to the Network and how much nerds like me are thrilled to have the site coming back (and what it might look like).
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Crazy football weekend, NHL cuts, does pre-season mean one damned thing?
- Alex Thomas, The Oilers Rig. Do we have any good answers about the third pairing now that training camp is almost over?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. It’ll be a fun show, probably some waiver wire talk around 10 as well.