As promised, Igor Larionov, the agent for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, is in Edmonton to see the Oilers play and talk to the front office executives about his client's role with the team. What he saw on Wednesday night when the Oilers lost 3-0 to the Stars didn't exactly put him at ease.
It was the third straight home game that the Oilers failed to score a goal. That's amazing, especially when you consider that the Oilers have three No. 1 overall draft picks on the roster right now and a few other highly skilled players.
"This is crazy, so much talent here," Larionov said of the Oilers' futility streak.
Included in that streak of futility is the real reason why Larionov is on hand to talk with Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish in person, because he and Yakupov aren't happy with the role he has at the moment. A pure goal scorer, he isn't playing and the Oilers aren't scoring. Not that there is a direct cause-effect relationship there but that isn't easing the frustration.
As to the feature attraction of Larionov's visit, the actual discussion with MacTavish, that's going to happen on Thursday as Larionov told the Edmonton Journal.
"Craig and I will sit down tomorrow [Thursday]. I just got into town and I haven't had a chance yet. But we have a nice relationship. He played the game, I played the game," said the Hall of Fame centre Larionov, who played against MacTavish in their NHL careers, matched up often in the face-off circle. "I want to help the kid. He loves it here. He wants to do better."
He also spoke about the big concern with Yakupov's game, which is his defensive ability. He noted that wingers, as Yakupov is, shouldn't have to be as concerned with the defensive responsibilities as say a centerman; they're job is to score. That's not to say D isn't important, but for a player like Yakupov and Taylor Hall it shouldn't be as paramount as a player like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins based on where they line up on the ice.
Regardless of the tension that might exist, it doesn't seem as though Larionov is steaming like he was the other day when he said he was off to Edmonton to discuss the situation. It seems, and that word is stressed, like it's more of a "let's all get on the same page" chat than anything else. At least everybody is saying they all want this relationship between Yakupov and the Oilers to work out.
Larionov will remain in Edmonton through Friday and watch the Oilers play the Sharks and given how good that team is, a fourth straight blanking at home could be coming.