His signature has not officially been applied to a contract extension, but New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has confirmed that Russian center Andrei Loktionov will in fact return to the Garden State to play next season instead of testing the ice in his native homeland.
“He’s not going to Russia,” Lamoriello said in an interview with The Star Ledger. “He’s staying in New Jersey. We saw right off the bat that he knows how to play the game. He creates plays. He tailed off at the end, certainly, but there is a lot of upside to him as far as the player he is. He’s a character. He loves the game. He’s always got a smile on his face, he comes to play and he wants to be here.”
It was first hinted on Tuesday afternoon by Russian journalist Dmitry Chesnokov via the popular social media site Twitter that Loktionov and the Devils were very close to a one-year deal. He credited his source as Loktionov’s agent Igor Laronov. However, since that tweet which said that “the probability of the signing is 99 percent,” there has not been any other word from Laronov about the resigning of his 23-year-old client.
Loktionov was acquired by the Devils on Feb. 6 from the Los Angeles Kings after asking for a trade from the club in January. The Devils sent their fifth-round pick to the Kings in exchange for the young center. In 28 games last season, Loktionv scored eight goals and had four assists. He started his time in Jersey on a tear but then bottomed out like the rest of the team’s nonexistent offense down the stretch.
Since Loktionov was due to become a restricted free agent this summer, he would have been able to consider the option of playing for the KHL in Russia. However, ever since joining the Devils in February, Loktionov has expressed a strong desire to play in the NHL on a regular basis.
Lamoriello would not publicly comment on any other contract negotiations that may or may not be ongoing at this time, stating that “Nothing is done until it’s done.”