It has been an eventful first few NHL seasons for Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto.  He first made his mark in the NHL late in the 2019-20 campaign, averaging nearly a point per game in 27 contests and it looked like Edmonton had found a homegrown, cost-controlled offensive forward.  However, the cost is getting higher and Yamamoto hasn’t been able to rediscover that level of production.  With the team set to be tight to the salary cap again next season, GM Ken Holland is going to need to decide soon whether he can still afford to carry the 24-year-old on his roster.

After filing for arbitration last summer, Yamamoto and the Oilers agreed on a two-year, $6.2MM contract, a deal that was slightly backloaded, paying $3.2MM in salary next season.  For someone in a middle-six role with some perceived upside still, it’s a price point that seemed quite reasonable.

However, things didn’t go as planned this past season.  Yamamoto tried to play through some injuries before eventually being placed on LTIR in mid-January and in the end, his final numbers weren’t the strongest at 10 goals and 15 assists in 58 games, not the best bang for their buck.  In the playoffs, Yamamoto managed just a single goal along with three helpers in their 12 contests despite still logging nearly 15 minutes per game which, again, fell below expectations.

As things stand, Edmonton enters this summer with around $5MM in cap room, per CapFriendly, but they have at least three forward spots to fill with that money.  Two of those spots will go to Ryan McLeod and Klim Kostin, restricted free agents that they’d like to keep around and combined, they’ll cover more than half of that cap space.