The best of this uncertain lot is probably Andrei Loktionov, a 24-year-old veteran of 150-odd NHL games. Apparently he has offers, but hasn’t decided yet what he’s going to do.
News from Russia
The last news on Loktionov came at the very end of July, when his agent Igor Larionov (who also represents Oilers winger Nail Yakupov) talked to RSport.ru. This, via the wonder that is Google Translate, is what he said:
While the recovery is ahead of schedule, and most importantly for Andrew. Play it still will not be likely until mid-September. While he a free agent, there is no rush. Hurry and panic does not make sense, because it is – a very strong player. There are two or three options in the NHL, and little interest in the League too. Such bright players, and even a central striker, needed on both sides of the ocean. decision will be behind it.
Loktionov (“Andrew”) was injured at the World Championships this summer and underwent shoulder surgery which will apparently keep him out of the lineup until mid-September. With the caveat that we’re working from a somewhat dubious translation here, it sounds like Loktionov has a couple of NHL options and some interest from the KHL, and that the interest exists in large part because he’s a centre.
The NHL options are probably not rich, one-way deals; I’m guessing that injured players who didn’t get a qualifying offer from their last team probably can’t afford to be too choosy if a one-way deal at decent money falls into their lap.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Oilers are one of those two or three teams with interest. There is an obvious need at centre and while Loktionov doesn’t necessarily fill it he’s another guy who could join the ‘maybe’ club with Leon Draisaitl, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander. On a professional tryout or even a two-way deal he makes a ton of sense, and for the player there aren’t a lot of teams in the NHL where he’d find a better opportunity.
On a one-way deal it’s much harder to make that case, particularly since he’s coming off injury. He’s had decent underlying numbers, but he’s also had a lot of his shifts start in the offensive zone over the years and his offensive production hasn’t been all that remarkable for a player used in that role. It’s hard to make the case that he’s a better bet at this point than Draisaitl or Arcobello.
But there’s absolutely no risk involved in bringing him to camp if he’s willing to come.
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