Andrei Loktionov came over from the Los Angeles Kings midseason for a fifth-round draft pick. He immediately came onto the team and showed a certain scoring touch. He was re-signed in the offseason after scoring eight goals in 28 games last season.
It seems like he was re-signed by the New Jersey Devils to play with Ilya Kovalchuk this season. If you know anything about hockey, you know that he left to go play in Russia. So where does Loktionov fit in this team without the man who was helping him revive his career?
His career previously was not like the season he saw with the Devils last season. For the most part, he is a player who wants to find the open man. Last season, he was the guy who got open and put in rebounds.
The Devils could use both guys. Loktionov has a one-way contract this season, and is all but guaranteed to make the NHL coming into 2013-14. He is a guy who can give you a ton of production in the offensive zone.
He is a true two-way center, but his skills are limited. The center position is in flux with possibilities that include Travis Zajac, Patrick Elias, Adam Henrique, Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, Dainius Zubrus and Jacob Josefson.
The team can really test some things when it comes with lines. Loktionov could end up playing as a winger and being used as a playmaker in the bottom six.
This will be a player to watch this season. Depending on who he is paired with, he can be a very good player for this team. He cannot be leaned on to produce, but he can finish if he plays with other skilled forwards.
The way he played last season reminded me of David Clarkson. He doesn’t look anything like him (Clarkson is three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier), but he got underneath the defense and was in position when his teammates took shots. Between him and Ryane Clowe, the team pretty much makes up for the loss of Clarkson.
Loktionov will have an interesting season in New Jersey. He is a player that is almost never talked about, yet when you think about it, he could be the biggest question mark. This may be his last shot to show NHL teams he is a viable talent. The Devils have hit gold with guys like Steve Bernier and Carter. Is Loktionov gonna come up gold, or is he going to be lost without his fellow Russian?
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