As much as he tries not to think of it, Kailer Yamamoto can’t help but think about it.

Nine games. The deadline still hangs over him, the prospect of being sent back to Junior is still very real.

Yes, he had a great training camp and earned a spot on the Edmonton Oilers right wing based on skill, determination and merit. But, as everyone knew, the regular season is a different animal and the audition is a long way from over.

The decision has now shifted to whether or not to keep him past nine games, thus burning a year off of his entry level contract, or send him back to Spokane for another year of seasoning and growth.

Like every kid in this position, he wants to stay, but he also knows the final decision will be made a lot higher up the food chain.

“It’s hard not to think about it,” said the 19-year-old. “I don’t know what they’re thinking, it’s hard to say. I try to block it out as much as possible.

“All I can do is come here every day and work as hard as I can. Just play my game and try to have fun while I’m doing it.”

Yamamoto didn’t get off to a great start. He looked nervous in playing just six minutes in the season opener against Calgary and sat in the press box for the second game of the season in Vancouver.

But head coach Todd McLellan liked his progress Monday against Winnipeg, although the Oilers set the bar pretty low in that one — hence the three-day boot camp that followed.