PITTSBURGH – There are currently more than 150 certified agents representing NHL players, but it was the newest name on the list that had the greatest impact on the first day of the NHL’s annual amateur draft.
On Friday, former center Igor Larionov – who won three Stanley Cup titles with the Red Wings and is among a small fraternity of players that make up the Triple Gold Club – made representing top-flight draftees look easy. That’s because in his first year as a player agent, Larionov had two of his clients selected in the first three picks at Consol Energy Center.
It was no surprise that Sarnia teammates Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk would go early on in the first round, but having their names added to the draft board as early as they did made Larionov – a Hall of Famer who still maintains a home in suburban Detroit – feel like a proud papa.
The Edmonton Oilers used the draft’s first pick to nab Yakupov, a 5-foot-11 forward, who is the first Russian-born player picked No. 1 overall since Washington took Alexander Ovechkin in 2004.
After Columbus grabbed Canadian-born defenseman Ryan Murray at No. 2, Larionov heard Galchenyuk’s name called from the podium when the Montreal Canadiens selected the 6-foot center, who was born in Milwaukee, Wis., at No. 3.
“It was fantastic, just unbelievable to have such great talent and to be drafted first overall and third overall, it was just fantastic,” Larionov told DetroitRedWings.com. “Right now we’re going to celebrate tonight a little bit and talk with the boys and set them up for their long careers. I’ll let them know what I expect from them to get to the next level.”
As a 24-year-old star in the USSR, Larionov was drafted by Vancouver in the 11th round in 1985. But the Canucks had to wait four years before Larionov arrived in North America.
It was important, Larionov said, that he stay in hockey after he retired as a player. After a stint on the Kontinental Hockey League’s board of directors, he explored opportunities to enhance the lives of inspiring young players. Going through the certification process would allow him to continue to work in the game. But he’s more than an agent to players like Yakupov and Galchenyuk, he’s been an important mentor and advisor.
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