Earlier this evening, the NHL had it’s first trade of the shortened 2013 season involving a Russian player. 22-year-old Andrei Loktionov who has spent his entire career with the LA Kings was dealt to New Jersey for a 5th round pick in this years draft. Loktionov spent most of his time with the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL where he scored 29 goals in 132 games. The Voskresensk native was assigned the Devils farm team in Albany, NY and could be available for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
He now joins a Devils club which has room at the center position at the NHL level and depending on his production with the baby Devils he could be called up sooner rather than later. Russians are no strangers to the Devils farm system as the likes of Alex Mogilny, Vladimir Zharkov and the late Alex Vasuynov have all spent time in Albany. Loktionov also featured in 59 regular season games for the Kings were he tallied seven goals and seven assists.
Despite featuring in 39 games last season, as well as two in the playoffs, Loktionov was not included on his teams engravement on the Stanley Cup so he and much of his soon-to-be teammates already have something in common.
Perhaps a change of scenery could do him some good as he has proven he can contend at the NHL level. Clearly the treatment he received from the Kings hierarchy left a bad taste in his mouth and could inspire him to prove he belongs at the top level. Loktionov is in a contract year and if he fails to impress he could always go to the KHL as many of his compatriots (including two of the aforementioned three) have done.
The Devils don’t exactly have shoe-ins at center once you get past Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac on the depth chart. Jacob Josefsons’ name comes to mind for a swap as he has just one assist and is a -5 through nine games. Times will tell on how soon Loktionov makes his way down I-87 to Newark and I for one hope it’s before the end of the month.