In the previous post, the likelihood of Slava Voynov rejoining the Kings was discussed. His buddy, and countryman, is already here. Andrei Loktionov skated in practice today as Dustin Penner’s replacement on the second line, alongside Mike Richards and Dustin Brown. It’s an interesting situation. Terry Murray has been on record as saying that Loktionov is a better center, but the current opening is for a winger and the Kings need Loktionov’s offensive ability in a top-six role, so for now, it’s a marriage of necessity. Loktionov spent part of last season as Anze Kopitar’s left winger, and in total he had four goals and three assists in 19 games. In Manchester this season, Loktionov is leading the Monarchs with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 17 games. Here’s what Murray said about his decision to put Loktionov in a second-line wing spot…
MURRAY: “With Penner going on I.R., we’ve talked about our scoring a lot here in the last couple years. We need to get our 5-on-5 scoring to have more depth, more balance. We feel with Loktionov, he’s a very creative guy, he’s a puck-possession player. He can, we’re hoping, make some good things happen on that line. I felt comfortable using him last year with Kopitar. He played five games and went back down to the minors and came up and played some more in that situation. So I feel that he’s got some games under his belt at that position, although I do still feel he is a center iceman. He fits there right now, again, because he’s a puck-possession player and he’s got a real good IQ on the ice. We’re looking to see if that can get some chemistry to start to get some scoring for us.”
Question: What do you want to see from that line, from Richards and Brown to help Loktionov out as a winger?
MURRAY: “Well, I’m looking for good chemistry from that line. We’re looking, obviously, for the offensive part of the game to take another step, to get to the next notch and to spread it out a little bit. I think we saw some of that happening in the Minnesota game. The D were involved. There were some pretty good puck-possession plays. There was good cycle play in the Minnesota game, and I think Loktionov adds to that kind of look, to what we want. Again, he played there last year, some games with Kopitar, and I think the experience was a real positive one for him. So the adjustment should be easier for him to go through this year.”
Incidentally, Penner was on the ice toward the end of practice, in a yellow no-contact jersey. Scott Parse, also on injured reserve, is not yet practicing.