Last week, Los Angeles signed a familar face to a PTO, 2008 fifth-rounder Andrei Loktionov. Now 27, Loktionov is coming off an impressive postseason with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, as his 12 points in 15 games helped his side to the Conference Finals.
He had a really good playoffs for Lokomotiv last season -- was a big part of their upset of CSKA in the second round. However, it's hard to see him anywhere close to the top-six forwards on an NHL team. I think he's likely to be used as a defensive depth forward, if he does make the team at all, and he could definitely see some considerable time in the AHL...
I wouldn't say he was their best forward even in the playoffs, but certainly among their top two or three (Kozun and Talbot and Averin were also very good)...
Lokomotiv gave him a long look on the PK this year, and he seemed to do okay (3 shorthanded goals, compared to only one on the PP). Lokomotiv's PK was overall average-ish, no better and no worse, in the regular season, and slightly above that in the playoffs... (Patrick Conway)
In the KHL, he was good, but not great. To be honest, I can't find him winning a full-time spot in the NHL, although he made some progress [over the years]...
My forecast is no NHL contract and back to KHL... (Alessandro Seren Rosso)
Catching up on some of Loktionov's postseason tape, #90 still owns the offensive flair and patience with the puck that Los Angeles fans were once excited by:
Yup, that's Ben Scrivens.
He appeared to be used as Lokomotiv's second-choice penalty-killing center (KHL doesn't release SH TOI). I wouldn't get too excited about his three shorties, as a pair of them were the sixth and seventh goals of a 7-2 postseason rout of HC Dinamo Minsk. Loktionov looks like a competent penalty killer though, flashing a smart stick, solid defensive instincts, and quick enough feet to pressure the point. Down two men, Lokomotiv threw him out with confidence.
All this said, Loktionov's fatal flaw is still present.
While the ability to kill penalties is a valuable add-on to the more offensively-inclined prospect which we remember, Loktionov is still knocked off the puck with relative ease in the KHL. As it was five years ago, whether he can stand his own physically in the NHL is still very much a question. The will is there, but the strength may not be.
With 35 Hits recorded over 166 KHL contests, the 6'0" pivot remains a finesse player, who relies on brains over brawn. That Loktionov doesn't deal much punishment is acceptable, but how he handles it will be critical to deciding his NHL future.
At the NHL level, Loktionov has a chance to be a skilled two-way addition to the bottom-six. At the very least, his versatility -- he can play center and wing, plus the promise that he can moonlight on either special teams unit -- will push the more one-dimensional Nick Shore or Nic Dowd during camp. He also offers a different skill-set than Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan, and Andy Andreoff.
While I won't predict that he'll come out of camp as LA's 13th forward, the growth in his game over the years, along with his versatility, make him a stronger candidate than most realize.
At Lokomotiv, Loktionov played with an interesting assortment of hockey personalities, from Southern California and beyond.
Assistant Coach Dmitri Yushkevich played defense for the Kings in the Andy Murray era, while Los Angeles 2009 sixth-rounder Brandon Kozun and 2005 fifth-rounder Patrik Hersley were teammates. Much-hyped Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 2001 first-rounder Stanislav Chistov was also hanging on.
2009 Stanley Cup champion Max Talbot was Lokomotiv's assistant captain.
Besides this blast from the past, Rob Blake also took care of the franchise's immediate future, inking RFAs Paul LaDue, Kevin Gravel, Michael Mersch, Justin Auger, Andrew Crescenzi, Zac Leslie, and Kurtis MacDermid to one-year contracts. Jonny Brodzinski earned a two-year deal. This locks up all of LA's free agents and leaves about $6 million in cap space.
The remaining UFA pool is unexciting, but there are players who can add quality depth. As the summer drags on, I'll start to spotlight some of these talents.
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