File this one under news you already heard about but is now confirmed. Earlier this month, it was reported that the New Jersey Devils would re-sign Andrei Loktionov. In this article by Rich Chere at NJ.com, Lou confirmed that there would be a new deal. Over at Sports.ru, Loktionov's agent Igor Larionov did state that it would be a one-year contract. All he was waiting on was a response from the player. Loktionov must have finally texted his agent back as details have now emerged on CapGeek: Loktionov was signed to a one-way, one-year deal worth $725,000. I'm sure there will be further confirmation of the deal shortly.
This is a rather great deal for the Devils. Loktionov was coming off his ELC and in showcasing his skill with eight goals and four assists in 28 games with New Jersey, an argument could be made that he displayed potential that would command more money. Having the potential leverage of going to the KHL would also drive up the price. However, none of that happened. The Devils retain a young, skilled player who still has to establish his spot in the NHL on a short and cheap deal. Should he falter, then the Devils can keep him for cheap or let him go. Should he soar on the ice, he'll still be an RFA next summer so it wouldn't be that costly to keep him. Loktionov not only gets a one-way deal to guarantee he'll get that $725,000 but also a chance to get an even more lucrative deal should he be more productive and perform better in 2013-14. I would think that most Devils fans will appreciate this signing.
As far as what Loktionov can do, well, he really needs to do more. We know he's got a good shot and he has great control with the puck. The play where he schooled Brayden Coburn for a goal back in March is a great example of that. But it would be really great if those skills were used more. He's really should try to increase the 1.67 shots per game rate he had (47 shots in 28 games) last season. His total number of attempts at even strength was only 58; that's got to increase since he is an offensive player. He played a lot of with Ilya Kovalchuk and it went well enough that the Russian coaches at the 2013 IIHF World Championships kept the two together. But it would be more beneficial to Loktionov and the team if he can perform with other players, giving him and the Devils coaches more lineup flexibility. In general, if he can improve his overall play - defense, play away from the puck, etc - then he'll get more ice time, more opportunities to make attempts to put pucks on net, and (hopefully) get more goals. The good news for him is that while he only averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time per game last season, he's pretty much penciled into a top-nine role based on showing he can hang at the NHL level. It's up to him to see how far he can go; not just for his role on the team but also for that next contract in 2014.
Again, I'm quite pleased that the Devils and Loktionov agreed to a low-risk and very manageable deal. The team and Loktionov will have the negotiate again next summer, but that's OK. By then, both sides will have a better idea what to do. What do you think of this signing? You may have already known it was for one year, but does the reported contract amount make you like it more or less? What do you expect to see from Loktionov next season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the player and the new deal in the comments. Thank you for reading.