What To Do With Andrei Loktionov

I’ve seen and heard much talk about Andrei Loktionov lately. How is he performing? Should he stay with the Kings or be swapped for someone in Manchester like Brandon Kozun, Linden Vey or Marc-Andre Cliche? Opinions vary though one thing is certain, Loki is a scorer who isn’t scoring.

OK sure, Kopitar is a scorer who isn’t scoring much lately, along with the majority of the Kings’ roster. But when the Kings do manage to pot their share of goals, like they did last night against Washington, Loktionov’s name is all too absent from the stat sheet for a guy who is first and foremost a playmaking center. As such, we have to consider his linemates. He isn’t centering Dustin Brown, he is centering Brad Richardson, a workhorse spark plug and Trevor Lewis, a defense first, defense last forward. Loki himself is not a very good shooter and his vision and passing abilities are often wasted on Richie and Lewis who we only really expect to finish their checks. The trio, while being the best line Loki has been a part of this season, also has 3 goals between them (all belonging to Brad Richardson) and 6 measly assists. Lowest scoring team in the NHL or not, is 4 points in 22 games enough to warrant the continued ice time of a forward who is not large, does not play physical, isn’t all that fast and does not play special teams.

Ah, but there is the crux of my opinion concerning Andrei Loktionov, special teams.

Loki belongs on the powerplay. Coach Sutter has been much better than Murray was in terms of making the obvious decision, like not to put Westgarth of Kopitar’s wing or not to sit Quick in the middle of the hottest streak a goalie has seen and probably will see this season. However, Sutter has continued Murray’s failure in his refusal to make this obvious choice. From memory, I’ve seen Loki get two powerplay shifts in Sutter’s short time with the Kings, both in the travesty against Columbus. They were very short and more along the lines of the PP being almost over so let’s put out the line we want going at even strength in 30 seconds as opposed to bona fide powerplay shifts. The kind of game Loki plays, mischievous and intelligent, is a perfect fit for the powerplay, particularly one that is struggling as much are ours has this season. Put Loki on a unit with Doughty, Kopitar and Richards or Brown and I am confident you will see a unit that finds and creates seems and cashes in on the ever elusive back-door play our man-advantage so desperately lacks. Not to say that Loktionov will be the scalpel needed to hurriedly remove the warts covering Jamie Kompon’s finest work, but it sure can’t hurt, for either the unit as a whole or Andrei as a developing forward. Only after I see Loktionov on the powerplay for significant time will I even entertain the notion of sending down a player who, despite his miniscule point total is truly coming into his own as an NHLer.

But let’s say Loktionov continues not to score, powerplay time or not. Is he the kind of player we want centering our third line?

I say yes. Loki’s defensive came is coming along in much the same way Kopitar’s did. While he will never be able to knock guys off the puck with his size, his confidence is getting better as his composure to make reads at NHL speed improves. Andrei knows where to put himself to intercept passes or engage opposing forwards in stick battles over pucks. His board play is picking up as I no longer see a kid getting knocked off the puck by players twice his size. His deception and strength have improved to the point where he can hang onto to the puck in a corner long enough for the play to open up around him. His intelligence on the ice and ability to read the play and predict the next move of both team’s players are an asset I want on our third line.

The scoring will come, of that I have no doubt. If he can improve his shot he will be a true threat in the offensive. However for now I am content with the Loki who passes the puck to himself by bouncing the puck high off the glass in front of him to keep possession. The guy who strips the puck on backchecks more than any player on the Kings since Ziggy Palffy. And no, I am not saying he is as good as Ziggy, just that he brings skills to the table with which we aren’t exactly overly burdened.

So keep Loki around until he becomes an active detriment to the team, something I don’t see happening any time soon. The other guys in Manchester will have their time eventually, there is no miracle worker waiting in the wings. Andrei has finally found himself a consistent role at center on the team. His line is contributing as all good third lines should, by hemming the opponent in their own zone. Loktionov will only get better from here and should Sutter wisen up and give the boy power play time, the points will soon follow.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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27 replies

  1. I watched his play last night, and it looked like he was starting to get his confidence back, and wasn’t just out there, and invisible. He was pressuring, and he was coming back to help out on the back check.

    Loktionov is not the biggest of players, but he is starting to adjust to the speed, skill and strength of the NHL.

    I know he is not scoring goals, and 4 assists in 22 games isn’t exactly stellar. I do think he might have been a little to excited on that one pass he got in the slot, where it looked like he scuffed it. Maybe the puck wasn’t settled.

    I do think whatever it is they are doing with him in practice is starting to help his game. I would like to see him get some PP time, and I would like to see him play a few more games before they decide if Manchester might be better for him right now.

    I hope Sutter will use Voynov and Loktionov on the PP, to see what they can bring together after playing for a few years in Manchester.

    I am also of the opinion, as long as he is not hurting the team, and does not get hurt again, then this can be the time the coaches and management can see exactly what they have after 3 frustrating years.

    The biggest knock on Loktionov is he has never played on a wing, so its something he really needs to learn if he wants to be of more use to the Kings.

    Having 5 or 6 center ahead of him, and being just a center makes it tough to keep him up.

    Cliche/Kozun/Vey are having pretty good seasons, I just don’t understand what it is that is keeping Cliche in Manchester.

    I would love to see Kozun up, just to see what he can do. He is perfectly capeable of creating, and scoring. I think his size isn’t as much as a factor, as it might have been last year. I think he might have to add some mass to make him more rugged, but we are starting to see a upward trend in smaller, quicker players, with St. Louis/Gionta/Cammy/Gerbe.

    Kozun can also be put on a wing, so he can just his vision and hockey IQ to help boost a 3rd line, or even a 2nd line role if necessary.

    Vey is also having a decent 1st season with Manchester.

    I do think the Kings need to see what they do have in these prospects in the NHL, in case they need another call up due to an injury.

  2. In terms of not scoring for the season. Sutter wasn’t here earlier. Lokti hasn’t scored, but it is undenyable how good the line he’s been on (for a whole 6 games, or something like that) is at forechecking.

    The team is in the midst of a system wide fine tuning, and no telling how much better this line could be till Sutters done dickin around with things. One things for sure, that line is the only line to stay intact through the first of 2 series of line up experiments by Sutter.

    Sutters on his 3rd set of experiments, and maybe they’ll stick again, maybe they won’t, but I like it so far.

  3. Fans typically overrate their team’s prospects. Many have overrated Loktionov. We see a stickhandle, deke, winning a board battle, nice pass or goal and it’s as if we have seen a hundred of them. On the other extreme, fans tend to demonize those same prospects when they get the payday but the results (even when reasonable) do not match expectations. Doughty is a good example and I do intend to give Player-X a hard time about his recent article when I have a minute to sharpen my teeth.

    Regarding Lokti, he hasn’t proven himself the second coming of Datsyuk. He has objectively shown himself to be a smart, undersized center with good speed (especially mid range), offensive instincts and a steady evolution toward defensive acumen. If his work ethic remains at a consistently high level, he has a better than 50% chance of being a valuable third line center with the potential of a top 6 forward. If he gains a scoring touch, confidence (that swagger of which we sometimes speak) while maintaining that same high level of work ethic, he can be a respectable top 6 forward. Of course, then he will get the pay day and fans will bitch because he isn’t scoring 40 goals and 70 points.

    As for the PP, I want to see him there and believe he will get the minutes so long as he earns it with his 5 on 5 play. He’s headed in that direction.

    • “He has objectively shown himself to be a smart, undersized center with good speed (especially mid range), offensive instincts and a steady evolution toward defensive acumen.”

      Perfect encapsulation of Loktionov’s season…until the last two weeks.

      Us “not in the know” fans often resort to nuances as part of our analysis. This is a line that appears to enjoy playing together and seems more cohesive with each game.

      On the whole the Club seems to be emerging from their offensive fugue and has began finding both offense and team identity.

      Concurrently Loktionov appears to be gaining confidence and enjoying a longer leash.

      Big numbers or not I like this 3rd line combo. I anticipate an increase in production which parallels the overall (recent) l improvement in offense.

      Least we forget, for two months the confidence of Richardson and Lewis was bitch slapped by Murray (in favor of the new girl, Moreau…Ha!).

  4. Im just disgusted Matt Moulson got his 19th & 20th goals. Would be our leading scorer. I say let him stay and progress, because you are correct. He is progressing. No more mistakes.

    • Matt Moulson is 80% on Lombardi. He fucked that up, just as he did with Boyle. Purcell is even mostly on Dean. Just a terrible eye for young offensive potential and if I ever saw him that, I would tell him that. I also think he learned from it, at least I hope he has. One of the reasons Lokti is around.

      • Add to that the Murray’s system left little room to evaluate or develop those types of players. Once on the Island there was little reason to keep Moulson on a leash.

        Boyle, just so so. He’s been hot and cold…even on a good Ranger’s squad.

    • Moulson wasn’t all on Lombardi. Moulson was putting up great numbers in Manchester, but never got to play with the Kings for any significant time.

      Moulson at least got 22 games under Crawford, while only getting 7 games under Murray. (And no I am not bashing Murray, just pointing out a fact)

      Moulsons numbers today are 40% skill, 60% being paired with John Tavares. The Islanders are a young team, and Moulson is getting more ice time now as a 1st line LW paired with Tavares.

      Moulson has been paired with Tavares since 2009 when Tavares went #1 overall. Moulson and Tavares have pretty much been on the same line since both of their 1st seasons with the Islanders.

      Moulson and John Tavares both grew up in Mississauga ON, and knew each other before playing in the NHL through lacross.

      I disagree on Boyle. Brian in his 08/09 season (Murray as coach), in 28 games he had 5 pts, 4 goals and 1 assist with the Kings, while in his 42 games in the AHL he had 21 points 10 goals 11 assists.

      Boyle is also not entirely on Lombardi. Boyle was average if at that before last season. Boyle worked on his biggest weakness skating, and this made a huge difference in his overall game.
      This is why he had 35 points last season 21 goals and 14 assists.

      Look at Boyle this season, not exactly on pace to match his points from last season.

      I disagree on Purcell also.

      Purcell is another player who is benefiting by playing with elite players, not because he was a mismanaged by Murray or Lombardi.

      Blame Lombardi for Cammalleri, Frolov, Handzus, and Demitra.

      • Moulson was putting up great numbers in Manchester, but never got to play with the Kings for any significant time.

        … And that is 100% on Lombardi! Who do you think is in charge of promoting players from Manchester to Los Angeles?

        Moulson at least got 22 games under Crawford, while only getting 7 games under Murray.

        … That’s because he played 111 games in Manchester over those two seasons. The fact that Moulson wasn’t given much of a chance with the Kings to show what he could do is MUCH more of a general manager issue than a head coach issue.

        Moulsons numbers today are 40% skill, 60% being paired with John Tavares.

        … Well, there’s something to look into a little bit, for sure.

        In 09-10, Tavares had a hand in 16 of Moulson’s 48 points, meaning Tavares either had an assist on a Moulson goal, Moulson and Tavares had assists on the same goal, or Moulson assisted on one of Tavares’s goals.

        In 10-11, Tavares had a hand in 32 of Moulson’s 53 points. This season, Tavares had a hand in 24 of Moulson’s 36 points.

        So, as an Islander, Moulson’s had 137 points. Tavares has had a hand in 72 of them. That’s about 53%. If you were to ask me, I’d say Moulson’s points as an Islander were just as much a product of Matt’s talent as they have been of John’s. And, what’s wrong with that?

        Lombardi just didn’t think Moulson could play. He didn’t bother to really look at his numbers with the Kings, or if he did, he certainly didn’t believe in them.

        Moulson played about 325 minutes at even strength with the Kings, and he scored 6 goals and 10 points. That’s 1.1 goals and 1.8 points per 60 minutes. For comparison, this season Mike Richards has played 473 minutes at even strength, and has 9 goals and 14 points – that’s 1.1 goals and 1.8 points per 60 minutes, exactly the same rate as Moulson’s was.

        Now, I’m not implying Moulson is just as good as Richards. But he was putting up impressive numbers in a short time with the Kings, and gave every indication that he would not look out of place in the Kings’ top 6 if given the chance. Lombardi decided instead to allow Moulson to sign elsewhere for a paltry $575,000, while deciding to trade for a guy (Ryan Smyth) who had a cap hit of over $6 million.

        I’m not going to go into the cases of Boyle and Purcell, as this response is long enough on its own, but suffice it to say that Lombardi didn’t think either of them could play, either. Dean didn’t think Cammalleri could play, so he has masterfully parlayed him into Dustin Penner. And it goes on and on with this GM, who obviously has very little use for young homegrown talent not named Kopitar or Doughty. And that’s why after six years, the Kings are where they were six years ago.

        • I was sitting there thinking, why the hell did this comment go to moderation? It then occurred to me that there is a setting with the blog that any comment that has 3 or more links in it, goes to moderation. It’s a way to avoid spam as that is a characteristic of spam. So, if anyone ever goes to moderation who has posted here before, that is one reason. FYI.

  5. His line has been doing a hell of a job with cycling and offensive pressure, but my god none of them can finish. I don’t even think they could score on Cloutier.

  6. DS is building Up his responsibility and I think that will eventually get him on the pp. I also agree that VV should be on the pp. Lotki has the skillset to be playing with top 6 finishers but his current linemates cannot finish. I think he will develop into a top 6 player with his vision, speed, craftiness and strong 2 way game. I didnt see any of the 7 or 8 LWs scoring on AKs line last year. Gotta have some talent to light the lamp.

  7. So far so good. Especially when you compare his ice time and use in the past. He is finally being used in a role and situations that best meet his abilities.

    Yes it would be nice if he could adapt and play on the wing. Yes it would give himself and the team options. On the other hand not every player is able to do this. It didn’t work out so well with MR skating on Kopi’s line did it? Think back and compare any Kings forward in this similar situation. Could player X skate wing? Could player Y skate at center? In most cases the answer is no, that is why they played their career at that position.

    I would love to see Lokti out on the PP. I would love to see both him and VV out there together. Perhaps some mix and match on the #1 unit, but that is unlikely. The better option is make Lokti/VV combo the core of the #2 PP unit. Give them the chance and responsibility. For the past few weeks the #2 PP unit has been better than the first many times. They still aren’t scoring, but they are able to gain the zone and maintain possession better than the first.

    The kid is undersized but that can be a good thing. As he learns the NHL game he can use that to his advantage to essentially hide himself on the ice. We are starting to see his ability on the backcheck to pick guys pockets. That is a classic example of a smaller guy using his size to sneak up on guys. We are also seeing him on the offensive side using his small size and skating to wheel and come off picks. He keeps developing and he will be fine. Now if he could get someone tat could bury the puck on some of the setups he’s dished….Richie I am calling you out on this.

  8. This article is a dud much like Loktionov. How about writing something about how in the world Compon has retained his job for as long as its been. He should have been dismissed with last years PP performance.

  9. … I think Loktionov HAS improved. He seems to have adjusted to the pace of the game, and he’s showing signs of possessing that patience with the puck that only NHL experience can bring. He had a streak of good, solid games going until the Washington game, where I felt he struggled a little bit.

    If the Kings expect Andrei to score on anything resembling a consistent basis, he does need to see more PP time. And, at 5-on-5, the Kings certainly need to have a better option on the wing for him than Lewis. Maybe that means bringing up Cliche. Now, I never have had an issue with a young player being brought up and tried out, and I never will. The only consideration here is that it’s going to take some time for Cliche to get used to the NHL, as it took time for Loktionov to do so. How long will that be? Well, that’s the big mystery with rookies – there’s that risk factor involved. I wish this team’s organization had enough balls to try a risky thing once in a while. Loktionov, I’m sure, has played alongside Cliche in Manchester, so there’s that. Also – Richardson is a fine player to have on the other wing, and as a guy who can take some faceoffs on that line as well.

    I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but Lewis is exclusively a 4th liner and PK player. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to understand that a man with five goals in over 120 NHL games shouldn’t be on the third line. The 4th line should be some variation on Clifford-Fraser-Lewis at this stage. Hunter should be given his walking papers.

    • I’m not diagreeing with you. Lewis hasn’t proven he’s even an offensive player yet, but isn’t there some sort of correlation between a team that is so defensive that no one can reach his offensive potential, and a young player failing to score while being groomed by that team?

      I don’t want to be cliche but there’s a whole list of smallish speedsters, who haven’t developed offensively here. Now that we have a new coach who is starting to give him consistancy, responsibility, and guidence, he’s labled nothing but a 4rth liner.

      • Now that we have a new coach who is starting to give him consistancy, responsibility, and guidence, he’s labled nothing but a 4rth liner.

        … But, come on now. Lewis has fewer points than Jonathan Quick does this season. If he has any kind of a scoring touch in him, at some point you’d think it would have appeared by now, right? His career shooting percentage is 2.6%.

        I’m not saying bench the man. I’m saying let him play on the fourth line and on the PK until he can show something on the offensive end. That’s about 11-12 minutes a game. At this point, I’d think it’s time for him to show the Kings he deserves more than that.

        I’ll agree to disagree with you regarding Murray not giving Lewis guidance or responsibility. It was Murray after all who found a niche for Lewis on the PK and was able to get something out of the guy at all. Sutter’s given Lewis more ice time; I’ll give you that. We’ll see if that leads to any elevation of Lewis’s game.

        • I think it has already. Maybe not in the scoring department, but that line is holding onto the puck, getting good chances, and keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Maybe it’s more his linemates, maybe it’s him improving, but that line can be exciting.

          Before last season Lewis had a total of 10 games over 2 years. He is basically a sophmore. I’m with you on he’s never shown much to make me a believer, but he’s also been groomed in a system where no one is scoring.

          Maybe something comes out of it, maybe not.

        • While Lewis is really a 4th line player, the third line is starting to really gel and be an asset when its time for their shifts, so to switch Lewis off right now I think would be ill-timed. His speed really helps that line through the neutral zone.

    • “Hunter should be given his walking papers.”

      Holy fucking balls yes. I’m not sure what DL’s problem is, that he has to keep going back to players like this. I’d rather bring up some kids from the minors and see what they can do, than sit on our hands content with an old dinosaur’s unproductive play.

      • I’ve wanted Hunter gone since about game 3. Unfortunately his play has improved and his line is firing on all cylinders, so he won’t be going anywhere just yet.

        It looks like there might really be something to the notion that Hunter in the first half was bogged down by recovery from his big injury last year. If that’s true and he picks up his play to what was expected of him, then he may not be such a terrible asset.

  10. I just go to the good old default mechanism when it’s too much to think in a more nuanced way. If DL had concentrated just an eencey weencey bit more on maybe drafting a forward who had something resembling a touch around the net, he might be shocked and surprised to see that either A) Kopitar would not go thru such a long midseason drought – if said player were playing with Kopi Or…. as the subject here is Lokti…. that B) Lokti might have a player who can actually find the back of the net which would C) make better use of his qualities as a playmaking center and D) give the Kings a little more of a defensive threat.

    • Shit, I’m on the east coast and jet lagged and tired…. meant ‘give the Kings more of an offensive threat. Maybe I wrote that as I too am still trying to adjust to the team being a bit more balanced instead of defense, defense and more defense.

  11. Lokti isn’t scoring?

    Off with his dick!

    Of course, one might well ask — who the fuck on the team IS scoring consistently? Are we to eviscerate EVERY guy whose numbers are down?

    Considering his mouse-size and the fact that he started out by getting knocked off the puck by little more than a blast of fart fumes, I think Lokti’s improved steadily. At least I don’t vibrate in terror when he’s on the ice.

    Yes, I wish we’d re-signed Zus — but I can readily understand why we didn’t.


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