The clock is ticking on Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland and Kyler Yamamoto to reach agreement on a contract extension.
Yamamoto, 23, was one of two oil workers who applied for a salary arbitration, along with Jesse Poliojarvi, and the hearing has been scheduled for August 7.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement on the extension before then, it will be up to an independent arbitrator to decide Yamamoto’s annual value to the arbitrators. Yamamoto is represented by JP Barry, Managing Director of the Creative Artists Agency.
“I’ll be talking a lot with JP, so we’ll see,” Holland said, shortly after signing with Puljujarvi on a one-year, $3 million extension earlier this week. “I don’t think we’re that far, but you never know until you make a deal.”
A first-round pick — 22 overall — from the Oilers in the 2017 NHL draft entry, Yamamoto scored 20 goals and 41 points in 81 games last season, and added two more goals and seven points in 14 playoff games. Yamamoto made $1.175 million last season, having signed a one-year extension after his contract with the rookie expired.
The Yamamoto Oilers qualified, along with Bulgojarvi, Ryan McLeod and Tyler Benson. Only Yamamoto and Puljujarvi had arbitration rights.
Holland would like to sign Yamamoto for longer than they did with Bolgwarvi, who may still be on the move after struggling offensively in the second half of the season and may need a change of scenery.
Yamamoto also had issues with inconsistency last season, but with long-term plans. He had a good run in March shortly after hiring Jay Woodcroft to replace Dave Tibbett as head coach.
“I think he scored seven or eight goals in March,” Holland said of Yamamoto’s eight goals and 14 points in 15 games last March. “He is unrelenting, he is a good checker and has a sense of hockey. Top players like to play with him because he can play with them. He can hold on to the puck, he doesn’t throw it away.”
Yamamoto was sent back to the Spokane Chiefs of WHL after playing nine games with the Oilers in 2017-18. He spent parts of two seasons with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors before being called up on New Year’s Eve in 2019 and made a strong impression by playing on a streak with Leon Drysittel for the rest of the season.
Yamamoto hit a 20-goal plateau for the first time this last season and is on his way to a peak, which bodes well for the five-foot-eight, 153-pound winger.
“He’s checking the foreclosure, he’s pressing a D; he’s probably one of the youngest players in the NHL based on his weight, but he’s not intimidated,” Holland said. “He is a smart and intelligent hockey player who can play in the top six and you need a player like that. He can also play in the third line, whether it is McLeod’s position in the third line or Nuge [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] Centering the third line”.
The Oilers announced Wednesday that they have moved the ECHL branch to Indiana for next season, as a team with the Fort Wayne Komets.
The Oilers have joined the Wichita Thunder since 2017, while the Komets have been an ECHL subsidiary of the Vegas Golden Knights since 2018.
“As one of the premiere clubs in the ECHL with a rich history of professional hockey in Indiana, we are very excited to have the Oilers of the future in Fort Wayne,” Oilers assistant general manager Bill Scott said in a media statement. “Under the leadership of Michael and David Frank and guidance from coach Ben Boudreaux, we know our prospects and players will have a first-class experience at Fort Wayne, as they develop as players on the ice and people off the ice.”
The Comets were originally part of the International Hockey League, and held titles in 1963, 1965, 1973 and 1993. They won four more in the league’s second incarnation and were also part of the Central Hockey League, winning a championship in 2012 and then winning the 2021 ECHL title.
Colin Schulk, who was named the AHL’s new head coach for the Bakersfield Condors, played over a decade with the Comets, with 184 goals and 684 points in 588 games. He holds the franchise record with 99 playoffs and retired number 91 at Fort Wayne in 2017.
Pride Cup to host OEG
Oilers Entertainment Group has announced that it will host the inaugural Pride Cup hockey tournament featuring a game between Edmonton Raj and Calgary Pioneers (2 p.m.) on August 6 at ICE District Plaza.
“OEG and Edmonton Oilers are proud to partner with Team Pride Tape and demonstrate our support for the LGBTQ2S+ community as we host the inaugural Pride Cup hockey tournament at ICE District Plaza,” said Tim Shipton, Executive Vice President of OEG. “We share the deep belief that everyone has the right to live, learn, work and play in a safe environment and hope that the people of Edmonton will join us in the arena on August 6 to send a powerful message to the world of sport that diversity, equality and inclusion should be celebrated and respected every day and every month of the year – And that’s hockey for everyone.”
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