Kings keep options open with Loktionov
There seems to be little doubt that the Kings appreciate Andrei Loktionov’s skill, that he has the potential to be a regular NHL player. The only question is, where? Loktionov is a natural center, and both he and Terry Murray have indicated that Loktionov might be at his best in the middle of the ice. But given the Kings’ current roster situation — three healthy centers, and injuries to left wingers Dustin Penner and Scott Parse — Loktionov has been on the wing, for the most part. In the third period Saturday against Detroit, Murray did move Loktionov to center, with Jarret Stoll on the right wing. Is that a look the Kings might try on a more permanent basis?
MURRAY: “I’ve thought about that a lot. Before we got him back up there, that was part of the thought process, where I was going to play him. Was it going to be left wing? I felt good about putting him on the left side, and I still do. I just think that the (Detroit) game was a very difficult one to evaluate individual players. I can evaluate our team play, but when you get away from your structure, like we did, all players will get exposed. I felt Detroit did that to us. They were really pushing it up, over the top of us. They took a lot of the speed out of our game. They were waiting for pucks to come to them, and I think we accommodated them in those situations.
“Loktionov, he was right in there in that category. There were some turnovers in the neutral zone that you don’t want to see against that hockey club. So I’ll leave that line, with him on the left side, the way it is for the game tomorrow. I know I have an option, and I know I can make some moves there. He would be one of those players that I can move to a different position if I feel I need to.’’
Question: Have you talked to Stoll about that at all, about his comfort in moving if the situation presented itself?
MURRAY: “We haven’t had a lot of talk about it. We kind of pushed it around last year a little, when I did it near the end of the season. He seemed to be OK with it, was OK with it. He prefers to be in the middle of the ice, but sometimes you’ve got to make those kind of changes. We’ll see where this all goes. Loktionov might be fine on left wing and we’ll just leave him there. So I don’t want to put any doubt in anybody’s head here, as to what I might do.’’