The New Jersey Devils just made their first trade of the 2013 season and it's with the Los Angeles Kings. As Tom Gulitti reported at Fire & Ice earlier this afternoon, the Devils got former 2008 fifth round draft pick Andrei Loktionov in exchange for a 2013 fifth round draft pick. It's not exactly what you would call a blockbuster move. Gulitti also reported that Loktionov has already been assigned to Albany.
What makes the pick up of the 22-year old, 5'10", 179 pound center interesting is that he's had some experience in the NHL. Based on his player page at NHL.com, Loktionov's played 19 games with the Kings in 2010-11 and 39 in 2011-12 with two playoff games in addition to putting up good production in the AHL. He's only received limited minutes in both stints with Los Angeles and he's only put up seven points each time. His advanced stats at Behind the Net aren't bad, though that high on-ice Corsi rate in 2011-12 was only 17th on the team. Loktionov's shooting percentage dropped like an anvil out of the sky in 2011-12 with both Los Angeles and Machester. It's not that he would've been a super-productive player, but it may have hurt his cause in Los Angeles. He's shooting better than 5.7% so far with Manchester this season, though he's only fifth on the team in scoring with seven goals and fifteen assists in 37 games.
I get the sense that while he's been a productive forward in the AHL, the jury's still out about whether he can be a regular NHL player. Since he's already 22, I don't think he's going to develop that much more as a player but he's not done improving just yet. It may soon be "put up or shut up" time for him. The fact that Los Angeles was willing to give him up for just a fifth round pick suggests to me that they didn't think much of his future. They definitely gave him chances in his 59 games played. On the other hand, HailRover's reaction at Jewels from the Crown has a different perspective. The Kings are well set at center in the future, he was pushed out of the lineup when they got Jeff Carter (Aside: thanks Columbus), and Loktionov became unnecessary to their plans (and kept him off the Cup, that's cold, L.A.). He could benefit from the change in scenery; going to an organization that really could use some young forwards in the system. A player may just need that to get the opportunity to make their case, such as Keith Aucoin with the Isles for example.
There's really no risk for the Devils. If the change of scenery helps and Loktionov turns out to be a bottom six NHL player, then it's a great minor move. If he's able to play wing, then I think his chances of coming up to New Jersey at some point this season would improve. If he doesn't get called up and he stays in Albany for the rest of this season, all the Devils lost was a fifth round pick, which is no big loss. Helping out the A-Devs would be a plus, if only they could use all the offensive help they can get. Loktionov is an impending restricted free agent, so the Devils will be able to keep him after his entry level contract if they so desire.
What do you think of the deal the Devils just made? Do you like it, dislike it, or ambivalent about it? Will we see Andrei Loktionov in New Jersey this season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the trade and the new Devil in the comments. Thank you for reading.