Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kailer Yamamoto

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Once again the Vancouver Canucks failed to secure a spot in the NHL playoffs. So, instead of competing for the Stanley Cup, Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the upcoming months to prepare next season’s roster. Now that the organisation is officially in a ‘transition period’, the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will be of utmost importance.

A four-game winning streak to start the 2016-17 season gave fans hope for the playoffs. But — blame the coach, the roster, injuries or anything else — unfortunately, the team was unable to play competitively for an entire season. With that, they are guaranteed another high draft pick this year.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming draft by profiling as many eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

This year’s draft seems wide-open, with no real consensus in any of the seven rounds. So, it will certainly be interesting to see who will put on a Vancouver Canucks jersey come June.

Under the microscope today is Spokane Chiefs forward Kailer Yamamoto!

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Name: Kailer Yamamoto

Position: Right wing

Shoots: Right

Birthdate: 1998-09-29

Height, weight: 5’8, 159 lbs

Team, league: Spokane Chiefs, WHL

Stats (from 






65 42 57 99 46 14


#22 by
#22 by ISS Hockey
#15 by Future Considerations
#29 by McKeen’s Hockey
#17 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 3/5, 4.5/5

NHL-potential: First-line winger

Draft Range: Mid-to-late first round

Scouting report

"A pint-sized, yet dynamic, playmaker… small, speedy forward with excellent hockey sense and quick hands…has a strong work ethic that keeps him going…great overall quickness, first-step jump to create separation and an ability to alter speeds to create gaps…sneaky and stealth-like in finding prime scoring ice…very creative with the puck and shows off creative hands…uses his size to squeak through the tightest of holes…is a force in possession as he likes the puck on his stick, and is dangerous as a set-up man or shooter in the offensive zone…poised, clutch and aware…feisty on the forecheck, not physically, but uses his speed to force opponents into rushed plays while clogging up passing lanes with an active stick…one of those rare wingers who has the ability to affect the flow of a game like a center…a very special talent, high octane and cerebral. (Future Considerations)"


Yamamoto has current ties to the NHL. He is close friends with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. In fact,  Johnson’s mother was the one who taught Yamamoto to skate.

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She must have been a good teacher, as he has turned into a fantastic skater. He accelerates quickly, and at top speed he can really fly. This helps him all over the ice, whether it’s walking around defenders on his way to the net, or beating them to loose pucks.

He is not only quick skating in straight lines, but he also moves well laterally. Yamamoto may be small, but he is usually able to roll off checks or avoid them altogether with his quick feet. And can create space for himself or his teammates with his agility.

His hands help with this as well. He is shifty with the puck, and an excellent passer and playmaker, with great instincts.


The elephant in the room (no pun intended) with Yamamoto is obviously his size. At 5-foot-8, he is far below NHL average size. The league certainly has a bias against small players, who are perceived as riskier investments.

Yamamoto certainly will not be making his presence felt with big hits. However, his gaudy point totals may help put his size in context. After all, he is under average size for the WHL too, and was able to dominate on the score sheet in spite of it. While he’ll need to bulk up from his current 160 pounds in order to compete, he should have the talent and speed to overcome his physical disadvantages.

Additionally, he will need to improve his play defensively in order to get a legitimate chance at the NHL.  And, while his shot is dangerous enough that he scored 42 goals this past season, it is not as hard or as accurate as it could be. If he wants to be as lethal at pro levels as he is in junior, he’ll have to continue to work on it.

Final Thoughts

For the Canucks, taking Yamamoto at number five isn’t an option. Most draft projections put him between 15th and 30th.

But, all things equal, NHL general managers tend to prefer bigger players to undersized ones. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Yamamoto falls on draft day for this reason alone. If so, Vancouver picks bright and early in the second round. He might be available, and if so they should take him.

Next: All 2017 Draft Profiles

The Vancouver Canucks need speed, dynamism, and goal-scoring. Kailer Yamamoto has that in spades. There are plenty of NHL players who overcome small stature with pure talent. Yamamoto could very well be the next.