Team: Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Year GP G A PTS PIM +/-
2016-2017 65 42 57 99 46 14
Welcome to Penalty Box Radio’s NHL pre-draft coverage. We will be taking a look at 10 potential prospects that the Nashville Predators could be choosing from with the 30th-overall pick. Let me preface this by saying this is not an exact science; some or all of these prospects may or may not be available by the Nashville’s selection rolls around. However, based on mock drafts and pre-draft player rankings, these are 10 of the most likely players to be around at the tail end of the first round.
Of all the prospects that we will preview, Kailer Yamamoto may be the least likely to fall to Nashville at No. 30. However, if he does, the Preds should not think twice about drafting the 5-foot-8 forward. Yes, Yamamoto is a bit on the small side for a top-six forward, but his offensive upside outweighs any concern about his size. The Predators’ biggest offseason issue is lack of depth on the wing and Yamamoto would instantly give that group a boost.
He is an offensive spark plug who has the speed to go along with the offensive skills to give opposing defenses nightmares. His game shows remnants of Johnny Gaudreau meets Viktor Arvidsson. I am in no way saying he is the next Johnny Gaudreau, but his style of play is very similar. He can create scoring chances from nothing and has the quick hands and puck-handling skills to fool a lot of defenders.
Many question if his skills in the WHL will translate to the NHL. He won’t win many puck battles — especially against larger defenders – because he gets knocked off the puck easily and lacks the upper-body strength to fight back. He needs to pack on more muscle to better handle the increased physicality of the NHL. He’s not a physical winger, but he is hard to catch.
His offensive ability makes him quite deadly on the power play and he has the potential to become an elite forward in the NHL. Just imagine Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Kevin Fiala and Yamamoto as Nashville’s top four wingers.
What they’re saying about Yamamoto:
“Obviously small, but strong and explosive on his skates and has a low center of gravity. Size is a concern but if he was two inches taller he’s a no-brainer” – Dennis MacInnis, ISS Director of Scouting
“A really good playmaking forward who uses vision, Hockey IQ and outstanding passing skills to set up plays. His passes arrive with accuracy and very solid power. Yamamoto is a very good skater, can accelerate fast and shows great quickness in his steps.” – Dennis Schellenberg, Hockey Prospectus
“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.” – Jeff Marek, Sportsnet
“Yamamoto will create excitement. He’s hockey-strong, can make contact and knock people off the puck, can protect it and win battles. Scouts like the fact he brings a game-breaker element to each shift.” – Mike Morreale, NHL.com
NHL comparison: Johnny Gaudreau
Draft projection: Late 1st round