Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto is Poised For a Scoring Streak 

There was no joy on Thursday (Dec. 15) at Rogers Place where the Edmonton Oilers lost to the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in a game that was decided by a shootout. Edmonton blew a two-goal lead over the final nine minutes of the third period, with St. Louis scoring the tying goal at 19:40 while shorthanded. Leon Draisaitl then appeared to win the game for Edmonton in overtime, only to have his goal waved off when the play was ruled offside following a video review that left Oil Country seeing red. 

The night wasn’t a total write-off, however. On the bright side, it could be said that at least the Oilers came away from Thursday’s loss with a point. Even for those who tend to see their glass as being half empty, it’s hard not to be encouraged by the offensive contributions of Kailer Yamamoto

Kailer Yamamoto Edmonton Oilers
Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 24-year-old winger scored Edmonton’s third goal against the Blues, recording his 100th career point when he tipped a Tyson Barrie shot past St. Louis netminder Jordan Binnington midway through the final frame. 

After failing to find the back of the net in his first 15 times suiting up this season, Yamamoto now has scored in two of the last four games. Both goals come following his return to the Oilers’ lineup on Dec. 5 after being sidelined nearly four weeks with an upper-body injury. He had just three points, all assists, in 13 games before going on injured reserve. 

Oilers Not Getting Support Scoring  

With his struggles to light the lamp early on this season, Yamamoto had become one of the poster children for Edmonton’s lack of depth scoring. 

While the Oilers are one of the top scoring teams in the NHL, more than two-thirds of their goals (76 of 112) have come from just four players: Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Connor McDavid, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The team has gotten next to nothing from its younger forwards that were pegged to contribute offensively, with Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod, Jesse Puljujarvi and Yamamoto combining for just seven goals through Edmonton’s first 31 games this season. 

Related: Oilers Won’t Get Back to West Final Without More Depth Scoring 

Edmonton will only go so far without the supporting cast scoring more, and a fair amount of that responsibility falls to Yamamoto, who tallied 20 times in 81 games last season. Thus, it’s a positive development in Oil Country to have the Spokane native breaking out of his slump. It also means something big might be coming, if history is any indication. 

Yamamoto Has Been a Streaky Scorer 

Yamamoto scored just once in the first 26 games of his NHL career, which came over stints with the Oilers in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He then reeled off 11 goals, along with 15 assists, in 27 games with the Oilers in 2019-20, making magic on a line with Draisiatl and Nugent-Hopkins after being recalled from the American Hockey League at the end of December. 

He started 2020-21 scoring three times in the first seven games, and had five goals through 17 contests, but ultimately finished the pandemic-shortened season with only eight goals in 52 games. Yamamoto’s hands turned to stone in the second half of the season, as he scored just once in the final 25 games, ending the season on a 13-game goal drought. 

That slump followed the 5-foot-8 pit bull into 2021-22, as Yamamoto began the season going seven more games without scoring. He then scored in each of the next two games and was off and skating to his first 20-goal campaign with the Oilers, in his first full-length NHL season. Now this. Sixteen regular season games without a goal going back to the end of 2021-22, followed with goals in two of four games. 

In tallying 42 times over the first 205 contests of his NHL career (a rate of nearly 17 goals per 82 games), Yamamoto has blown hot and cold. Right now, those are warm winds trending through the Alberta capital.  

The Oilers will hope he continues to heat up when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (Dec. 17) in a matinee at Rogers Place, as they look to rebound from the nightmare of their last game.