Igor Larionov, who was in the crowd Wednesday night watching Nail Yakupov play 13 minutes and the Edmonton Oilers fall 3-0 to the Dallas Stars, will talk with Oilers GM Craig MacTavish about his struggling client Thursday.

“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.”

Larionov, who will stay for Friday’s Oilers home game against the San Jose Sharks as well, said earlier in the week he wasn’t happy with the way the second-year winger Yakupov was being used here. Larionov is no rabble-rousing agent; he’s as good a man as you’ll ever meet, a great player who stood up to the tyrannical Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov for player rights when he lived and played there.

Yakupov is averaging 15:25 a game through the 18 games he’s played, but in the loss to Dalla,s he might have played more but was hamstrung by a run of special team work: he doesn’t play on the penalty-kill and the Oilers had to kill four 5-on-4s and one 5-on-3 for 91 seconds.

As well, Oilers coach Dallas Eakins uses Yakupov on the second power-play unit with the Oilers having 6:07 of 5-on-4 and 88 seconds over two 5-on-3s. So he only got 2:44 of the 7:38 of PP work.

Yakupov was the victim of Antoine Roussel’s empty-netter with 14 seconds left to finish minus one and go to minus 15 on the season, but his defensive game was really not at fault in this loss. He simply didn’t get anything done (just one shot) on a third line or playing with Taylor Hall when Eakins changed things around. It’s his defence that is mostly the issue for his ice-time, however.

Larionov was an excellent two-way player in Vancouver, San Jose and especially in Detroit. In today’s parlance, he played a highly-intelligent, 200-foot game, much like Pavel Datsyuk does today for the Wings. He says wingers maybe need a little more rope though.

“I was a centre, I played the old-style, two-way game and he (Yakupov) is a goal-scorer. Look at (Pavel) Bure when he was in Vancouver. (Sergei) Makarov and ((Vladimir) Krutov didn’t play defence either (Russian national team or Central Red Army as part of the KLM line). I was doing the dirty job for them. Makarov and Krutov would be high, waiting for the pass to take off,” said Larionov.

Larionov feels wingers, not just Yakupov, but presumably Oiler kids Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle maybe should get more leeway.