As Kailer Yamamoto readies for his sixth National Hockey League game Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, his status as an Edmonton Oiler boils down to this:

Can these Oilers, a team in “win now” mode for the first time in ages, afford to send a Top 6 forward back to junior simply to protect their salary grid three years from now? Do they have so many Top 6 players that Yamamoto can be sacrificed for salary cap concerns? Because, through his first five NHL games, the 19-year-old Yamamoto certainly looks like a Top 6 NHL forward.

“So far,” allowed head coach Todd McLellan.

The other side of that question, of course, is this: When we’re 30 games into the long grind of an NHL season, will Yamamoto still command Top 6 ice time? How about in January? What about March?

Make no mistake: McLellan wouldn’t have this kid on his top line if he didn’t think he was the best option on Connor McDavid’s right wing today, with Leon Draisaitl (concussion) on injured reserve.