One day after saying he was excited for an opportunity to at the NHL level with the New Jersey Devils, Andrei Loktionov is headed back to Albany.
Loktionov requested a trade from the Los Angeles Kings last week because he wanted to play in the NHL rather than the AHL and he didn’t see a place for that in the Kings’ organization.
Loktionov also said that he sees himself as solely a center and that playing as a winger was “a huge problem” with the Kings.
But, after the Devils’ coaching staff assessed Loktionov on Wednesday and reacquired forward Alexei Ponikarovsky in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets, he was reassigned to Albany Thursday.
On Wednesday, Devils coach Pete DeBoer said that he prefers versatile players that can play 12 different forward positions, compared to just four.
Once the Devils had acquired Ponikarovsky, who made a name for himself in the postseason last year, it was a no-brainer to send Loktionov, an unproven prospect, back to the minor leagues, even if he didn’t want to be there.
Still, it leaves Loktionov’s future in New Jersey up in the air. As he expressed on Wednesday, he has little-to-no interest of playing in the AHL, but for now, that is the only place for him.
Of course, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t going to put someone on the Devils that isn’t ready to be there. Lamoriello said that Loktionov had played well in his first two games in Albany, so there is a good chance he may come back at some point this season.
For the time being, it appears that Loktionov is going to have to play his way into New Jersey, regardless of his thoughts on where he should be.