EDMONTON — Kailer Yamamoto is definitely making a strong case for a longer look with the Edmonton Oilers.
Drafted 22nd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Yamamoto has four goals and an assist in three pre-season games.
"I just expected to come in and work as hard as a I could to be the player I am and not do too much, just to stick with what I can do," said Yamamoto, a five-foot-eight forward out of Spokane, Wash., who had 99 points with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League last season. "I think I have been playing smart and have been doing a good job keeping my head up against the bigger guys.
"I’m still trying to figure out the systems. My game has been good, but it can still be better… This all almost feels surreal."
Leon Draisiatl also scored for the Oilers, who are perfect in pre-season play with a 4-0 record.
The German forward likes the poise he has seen out of Yamamoto to this point.
"It’s really impressive," Draisaitl said. "He understands the game really well. He’s a fearless little guy. He doesn’t shy away from getting in there and that’s the most important thing. He has a really good hockey sense and a knack for finding the net and making plays."
"He knows how to play with his size," added Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. "The more structured the game gets, the better he plays."
Michael Carcone, Anton Rodin and Jalen Chatfield replied for the Canucks (2-3-0) who dressed what is primarily their American Hockey League roster with the bulk of the usual team in China to play the L.A. Kings.
After Edmonton had a goal by defenceman Keegan Lowe called off due to a Canuck dislodging the net, Vancouver was able to take a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal with seven minutes remaining in the first period. Carcone skated in from the point with the man advantage and beat Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit to the glove side.
The Oilers tied it up with 25 seconds remaining in the opening period, as Milan Lucic sprung Draisaitl on a breakaway and he buried it past Vancouver goalie Richard Bachman.
Edmonton went up 2-1 five minutes into the middle frame when Chris Kelly sent it across to Yamamoto and he made no mistake, scoring his third goal of the pre-season.
The Oilers added to their lead midway through the second when Pakarinen scored on a short-handed breakaway.
The Canucks pulled within one four minutes into the third period, as Rodin picked off a pass and went in alone, beating Brossoit with a wrist shot.
Edmonton responded quickly as Pakarinen rifled in his second goal of the game from the top of the circle.
The Oilers padded their lead with a power-play goal as Draisaitl found Yamamoto at the side of the net for his second of the contest.
Vancouver got one back with six minutes left, as Chatfield scored on a point shot.
Notes: With their veteran players in China, the Canucks were exempt from the NHL’s usual requirements for dressing a minimum number of eight experienced players. As a result, Vancouver’s lineup in Edmonton featured a roster that had combined for just over 400 NHL games played with a total of 28 NHL goals.