Instantly, some of the reaction from fans included things like ‘They gave him away’ or ‘What a terrible mistake by the Kings.’
Why? Where is this coming from?
First off, GM Dean Lombardi has his four centers under contract for the next several years. Up front, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards are locked up long-term. And over the summer Jarret Stoll signed a three-year extension and Colin Fraser inked a two-year deal.
One could even argue that the Stoll and Fraser contracts were moot points in the final evaluation of Loktionov because he was never projected as a bottom-six center.
There’s also the failed move to wing that we wrote about in last week’s article. Loktionov didn’t like playing there and Kings’ management didn’t like his production after the move.
Speaking of stats though, in 39 NHL games last season, Loktionov scored three goals. For his entire career, he has seven goals in 59 games with the Kings.
In Manchester this season five other players have scored more goals than the 22-year old Russian forward.
Heck, he’s tied with defenseman Slava Voynov at seven goals for the Monarchs – and his countryman hasn’t played there for over a month.
Finally, there’s his contract to consider. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, when he could always opt to go back to Russia if he thought the money and/or playing time could be better.
In the end, LA used a fifth round pick at the 2008 draft to acquire Loktionov. It didn’t work out and New Jersey gave Lombardi exactly what he paid for him.
So, will the Kings really regret trading a guy who didn’t want to be in the organization any more?
For now, the Devils are sending Loktionov to Albany, where he’ll play for their AHL team.
Will he go on to become a high-scoring center in the NHL?
Again, doubt it.
But, we’d love to hear somebody make a reasonable case for it.
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