After missing the last four games with an upper body injury, the New Jersey Devils placed forward Dainius Zubrus on injured reserve on Wednesday.
Zubrus’ place in the lineup may be taken by Andrei Loktionov, who was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Devils last week and recalled from Albany early on Wednesday.
Loktionov told reporters on Wednesday that he requested a trade from the Kings because he wanted to play in the NHL and didn’t see a chance for that to happen consistently in Los Angeles.
Moreso, Loktionov said the Kings tried to use him at left wing, but said it was “a huge problem,” according to the Bergen Record.
But, with Zubrus’ injury having the potential to be long-term, the Devils might have use for Loktionov, who participated in New Jersey’s optional skate on Wednesday afternoon.
The Devils haven’t announced if Loktionov will play in Friday’s home game against the Philadelphia Flyers, but all signs indicate as if he might make his Devils debut then.
Loktionov knows several Devils’ players from his hockey career, including center Adam Henrique. Loktionov and Henrique were teammates in junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires four yers ago. Loktionov said he had just met fellow Russian players Ilya Kovalchuk and Anton Volchenkov after being called up to New Jersey.
Ideally, Loktionov could fit into the Devils second line if he proves to have the potential and meshes will with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, where Zubrus was so effective over the last few seasons.
“It’s my dream to play in the NHL. I’m so [happy to be in] New Jersey,” Loktionov said, according to NHL.com.
Despite Loktionov saying that he can only be a center in the NHL, Devils head coach Pete DoBoer said he thinks the best forwards are ones that can play anywhere.
“If you limit yourself to one position, there’s four jobs on a team. If you’re versatile, there’s 12 forward jobs. It’s simple math to me: make yourself versatile,” he said, according to NHL.com.