Q&A with Andrei Loktionov

By Alessandro Seren Rosso

Andrei Loktionov is a talented center selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He was also taken in the annual CHL Import Draft with the seventh overall selection. He now plays for OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, where he has recorded 19 points in as many matches, with only six PIMs.

Loktionov was born in Voskresensk, an historical place for Russian hockey. That little city not far from Moscow has produced many quality players, like the legend Igor Larionov, Valeri Kamensky and Vyacheslav Kozlov. Loktionov started his career playing for the local Khimik in the junior league, and then for Spartak Moscow until 2006, when he entered in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s system. In Yaroslavl, Loktionov played mainly with the farm team, in the third tier league, doing fairly well with 28 points scored in the 2006-07 season. In that year, he started playing regularly with Russia-90 national team, on the first two lines.

In 2007-08, he skated in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and was the team’s top scorer and top in plus/minus. Later on, he made his debut in the Russian Super League, with one assist in seven contests. Last April, he starred at the WJC under-18 in Kazan, Russia, where he centered the other highly-touted prospects Nikita Filatov (CBJ) and Kirill Petrov (NYI) in the first line, playing a solid tournament with eight points in six games. Team Russia clinched a silver medal after the heavy defeat against Canada in the final match.

Loktionov is a gifted center who can play also as winger and can handle physical pressure well. He doesn’t have imposing size at 5’11, 187 lbs, but doesn’t skate away from traffic, and has good defensive play. Smart without the puck, he can be dangerous with his clever moves and his good stickhandling abilities. On top of that, his combination of passing game and intelligence with and without the puck makes him a dangerous player during power-plays, but not only with the man advantage. He has also showed some leadership in his career so far, but it has to be revised once he hits the pro game, as everything changes in senior locker rooms. He’s a very talented player, but has to work on his concentration and must improve in the faceoff dots in order to become more effective.

Hockey’s Future recently spoke to him in his native Russian.

HF: How is the season going for your Windsor Spitfires?
AL: All is going perfectly well.

HF: Are you satisfied so far about your personal performances?
AL: Well, not too much.

HF: How is the adaptation process going?

AL: All normal so far.

HF: Which game has been the best for you so far?

AL: I think that my best game is yet to arrive.

HF: What are your expectations for the 2008-09 season? What aspects of your game do you plan on improving?

AL: I have to work on all the aspects of my game.

HF: You play in the same team as 2010-eligible Taylor Hall, can you tell us your impression on him?

AL: He’s indeed a very good player.

HF: With you and Hall, the team seems to have a good set of centers. Does your coach divide you guys into different lines or does he like to group you?

AL: He likes to group us from time to time.

HF: In what line do you play? Can you tell us about your linemates?

AL: Now I play on the third line, where I have very good partners.

HF: What differences you see in the coaches’ approach in Russia and in North America? Do they ask for different things?

AL: Yes, many things they ask are actually different. But I won’t disclose.

HF: Are you disappointed to be playing in the CHL instead of the pro American leagues?

AL: A little bit because I would rather play in the NHL.

HF: What was the experience of Kings camp like for you?
AL: It was simply great, there’s nothing else to say.

HF: How much time would you estimate it would take you before making the jump to the NHL? Do you feel close, or think there is much to do?

AL: Honestly I feel that I still need to work a lot, but I want to play there.

HF: Going back to last year, did you expect to be chosen in the Entry Draft?
AL: Yes, of course.

HF: What was your reaction about being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings?

AL: There was no difference for me about what team would pick me up, so my reaction was normal.

HF: Did you have any idea that they were interested in you?

AL: Yes, a little bit.

HF: For your average Kings fan who has never seen you play, how would you describe your style?

AL: Sorry, but I don’t like to talk about my playing style.

HF: Do you still hear from Vyacheslav Voinov? Are you friends?
AL: Yeah, of course we are friends. It’s all very good between us.

HF: What do you think you need to work on most to make the next step to pro hockey successful?

AL: Well, as I said before, I think that I have to work on all the aspects of the game.