The Edmonton Oilers have made the decision to not keep rookie Kailer Yamamoto past the nine-game threshold. The team announced today that they’ve sent their diminutive forward back to the WHL for additional season, thus retaining the first season of his entry-level contract. Yamamoto’s deal will now slide and kick in next season. In his place, the team has recalled Brad Malone from the AHL.
Removing Yamamoto from the mix was likely a tough decision for the Oilers as they continue to struggle this season. Now at 4-8-1 and coming off a decisive 4-0 loss at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, removing a talented youngster from the forward rotation doesn’t seem prudent. Still, sending Yamamoto back to the WHL where he can receive top line minutes and continue to develop his game is likely the correct move long-term, as he had played sparingly recently and looked over-matched at times. He’ll rejoin a Spokane team that could really use his scoring ability, and try to vault them back into the playoffs.
Mark Spector of Sportsnet expects the Oilers to sign Chris Kelly now that there is another roster spot available, though the recall of Malone obviously fills that spot for now. Kelly has been practicing with the Oilers since appearing on a professional tryout through training camp and could earn a contract like Roman Polak and Brooks Laich have already in Toronto and Los Angeles. Kelly doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but is an experienced forward who has always been known for his defensive prowess.