While most Kings fans are mourning the ongoing lockout, the Manchester Monarchs have benefitted from the talent that has trickled down from the top. As a result of unsettled negotiations between the NHLPA and NHL owners on a new collective bargaining agreement Kings players had to exercise other options to keep their legs fresh and hands nifty. For some, such as Anze Kopitar, Europe was the destination of choice but for Andrei Loktionov, Slava Voynov, Jordan Nolan and Dwight King the obvious choice was heading to New Hampshire to join the AHL affiliate. Voynov and King played a significant role in the Kings march to claiming the Stanley Cup last June.
Dwight King’s emergence has a skilled power forward in the 2012 Playoffs came as a surprise to many. He scored a few very timely goals against the Phoenix Coyotes in the Conference Finals that seemed to prevent the Coyotes from building any kind of momentum in the series. I remember being pleasantly surprised by King’s wrist shot which was deceptively quick and packed a lot of velocity. As King went so did the Kings. He currently has 6 points in 7 games for the Monarchs this young season, but if he finds ways to get open in the middle of the ice in the offensive zone he will surely get more opportunities to put the biscuit in the basket.
Andrei Loktionov will be on a bit of a mission to have a good season this year with the Monarchs to prove that he belongs with the Kings. Loktionov was denied the opportunity of having his name etched on the Stanley Cup because he did not play enough games with the Kings this past season even though he did play in 2 playoff games. As a fan I found it upsetting that the billionaire owner’s wife was included on the Cup but he was not (not to mention Terry Murray’s name was left off the list as well). Andrei, who is second on the Monarchs this season in scoring with 8 points, has shown flashes of offensive prowess but has never maintained a high level of play for an extended period of time. It will be difficult for him to break into a regular role as a center in the Kings lineup behind Kopitar, Richards, Stoll and Lewis.
The Monarchs are in a good position early on in the season to accomplish great things. They are currently first in the Atlantic Division with a record of 7-3-0 and look to follow in the footsteps of their big brother.