We speculated on the possibility of Andrei Loktionov being moved a week ago, and it seems that the other shoe has finally dropped: Loktionov has been traded to the New Jersey Devils. See the official release from the Los Angeles Kings here.
Loktionov was a fifth-round pick by the Kings in 2008, a pick that was seen as a bit of a gamble by GM Dean Lombardi simply because there was concern as to whether he could be successfully signed out of Russia. But Loktionov came to North America and played one season with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires before moving to the Manchester Monarchs. Loktionov made his NHL debut on November 25, 2009, but did not play for the Kings again until the next season, when he appeared in 19 games with the big club and scored seven points. He played in 39 regular season games and two playoff games last season, showing flashes of his offensive prowess but struggling to find a consistent niche in the lineup. He scored three goals in his final six games, but he was essentially pushed out of the lineup once Jeff Carter was traded to Los Angeles in February. His only playoff games (Games 2 and 3 against Vancouver) were as a replacement for the injured Kyle Clifford, and his name was controversially not included on the Stanley Cup.
So 4 1/2 years after Andrei Loktionov was drafted as what many called a "steal" in the fifth round, the Kings get a fifth round pick back. The logjam at center in the Kings organization certainly contributed to the move, as Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards were fixtures on the first two lines, and Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser were given extensions. But many fans and bloggers wanted to see a place for Loktionov in the Kings lineup- one that, especially after the Kings' championship run, simply wasn't there in the eyes of the Los Angeles organization.
You can see the New Jersey reaction to this trade over at In Lou We Trust; while they haven't seen much of Loktionov, his likely role is going to be as a bottom-six forward (good luck with that) or as an Albany Devil scoring threat. We'll have more on this story later, but for now: What are your thoughts on the move?