EDMONTON -- After an up-and-down start to his NHL career, Kailer Yamamoto is now establishing himself as a key piece to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers drafted the 5'8" right winger 22nd overall in the 2017 draft. He played nine games in the NHL that season and recorded three assists, but the Oilers sent him back to the Spokane Chiefs to maintain his entry level contract at three years.

Yamamoto, 21, spent the majority of the 2018-19 season with the Bakersfield Condors, where he focused on improving his defensive skills, and after a slightly longer but less productive cameo in the NHL, things are beginning to click for him.

"Play the same way every game," Yamamoto said of what it takes to succeed at the top level. "You can't take games off. You gotta play with that energy every game, trying to get better every day."

And he has. His coach and teammates have noticed, and the Oilers have improved with him on the roster.

"He plays the game fast, he thinks the game well and he makes good plays," head coach Dave Tippett said. "He's been a real good boost to our group here."

"He's tenacious. He wins a lot of puck battles and stick battles," centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins told CTV News Edmonton. "Maybe he's not the biggest guy, but in his mind that doesn’t matter. He wants to go out there and outwork whoever he's going up against."

In seven games so far, Yamamoto has more points than in his past two seasons combined, with two goals and three assists.

Edmonton is 5-2 since Yamamoto was called up.

The Oilers' last game before the All-Star break is on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes at 1 p.m. in Edmonton.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Adam Cook