Kraken sign Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane native and ex-Oiler

Jul 2, 2023, 3:36 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm

Seattle Kraken Kailer Yamamoto...

Kailer Yamamoto celebrates an Edmonton goal against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 18, 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Kailer Yamamoto and the Seattle Kraken have made a little history, agreeing to a deal that will make him the first Washingtonian to play NHL hockey for a team in his home state.

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Yamamoto, a Spokane native who has played for the Edmonton Oilers over the last six seasons, has agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million with the Kraken, as announced Sunday afternoon by the team.

The 24-year-old Yamamoto was the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft. A 5-foot-8, 158-pound forward, Yamamoto scored 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) including three game-winning goals, had a plus/minus of 12, and won 46.15% of his faceoffs in 58 games last season.

“Kailer is a speedy, hard-working playmaker with good hockey sense,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said, per the team’s official website. “We’re happy to welcome him to the Kraken.”

In 2021-22, Yamamoto set career-highs in points (41), goals (20), assists (21), power play goals (three), power play points (six), game-winning goals (four), shots (114), shot percentage (17.5%) and games played (81).

Yamamoto hit free agency this week after the Detroit Red Wings waived him a day after they acquired him in a trade Thursday with the Oilers, sending future considerations to Edmonton for Yamamoto and forward Klim Kostin. Both the trade by Edmonton and buyout by the Red Wings were cost-cutting measures after the NHL salary cap was increased this week by just $1 million for the 2023-24 season.

Prior to his NHL career, Yamamoto played four seasons with his hometown Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League.

Yamamoto’s addition comes a day after the Kraken signed veteran defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a two-year contract (full story here). NHL free agency officially opened Saturday.

The Kraken have so far lost Ryan Donato (Chicago), Morgan Geekie (Boston), Carson Soucy (Vancouver) and Daniel Sprong (Detroit) in the early stages of free agency.

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