Kailer Yamamoto closing in on Edmonton Oilers opening night roster spot

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling (33) makes the save as Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) looks for the rebound during second period preseason NHL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday September 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

With just two more pre-season games left for the Edmonton Oilers, it’s starting to look more and more like 18-year-old forward Kailer Yamamoto is going to start the season with the team.

Yamamoto, taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft by the Oilers this summer, has five goals in four pre-season games to lead the team in scoring.

“He has a lot of skill and a lot of upside to him,” said Oilers forward Patrick Maroon on Yamamoto. “He’s been showing all preseason long that he can make this team. He’s making his way to that, he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

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Maroon saw first hand how skilled the rookie is when Yamamato was moved on to his line during the game last night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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“He is a strong kid, and he actually protects the puck really well for a small guy,” added Maroon.

Yamamoto was back on the Oilers top line at practice Tuesday with Connor McDavid and Maroon. While his chances at making the team continue to grow, there now appears to be a chance that he could start the season on the Oilers top line.

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“I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s just let the 18-year-old try and make the team before we throw him up there on Connor’s line,” explained Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. “He’s played there and played well, but the pressure I want him to feel is just to try and make the team, not the pressure of playing on Connor’s line.

“If he happens to continue to perform well, and we feel like he can get it done there, then he’ll play there. But let’s just give him a little bit to chew off, not a lot.”

Expect Yamamoto to suit up on Wednesday night when the Oilers meet the Hurricanes for an exhibition game in Saskatoon.

LISTEN: Bob Stauffer and Mark Spector break down the Edmonton Oilers opening night roster

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The Oilers did trim their training camp roster on Tuesday when they assigned goaltender Nick Ellis and forward Patrick Russell to the Bakersfield Condors. They also placed forward Ty Rattie and defenceman Dillon Simpson on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Bakersfield.

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