Young players should naturally improve, in a physical sense, from year to year early in their careers, but it’s safe to say that no Kings prospect made a bigger jump than Andrei Loktionov. Now 20 years old, Loktionov came to camp two years ago as a teenager with decent height (he’s listed at 5-foot-10) but with a desperate need to put on some bulk.
At this camp, Loktionov looks like a different player. He’s stronger and more aggressive at both ends of the ice, and he was the one prospect whose game really impressed me last night at Staples Center. He only had one shot on goal in 15 minutes, and took a poorly-timed penalty, but he worked tremendously hard at both ends, was strong on the puck and made good passes.
Loktionov is still probably a longshot to make the team this year. He probably could play wing, but his talents seem more suited to center, and it’s not a stretch to think he could fill a second-line role in the long term. For now, Loktionov is still in contention for a spot, and he impressed coach Terry Murray with his play last night. Here’s what Murray had to say…
MURRAY: “Loktionov has really improved on the physical side of the game. He’s becoming a man out there. He’s very strong. He has put a great deal of time in, in the last two years, to the offseason program. You can see that he’s such a focused guy. It is so narrow when he’s out there, his total concentration. He’s on the puck, and that’s why he is such a great puck-handler, because he really does work at it. … He is a playmaker and he sees the ice. He’s got great awareness on the ice, to make those kinds of plays, and as we see him move forward career in his career, he’s only going to get better at that part of his game.”