As the NHL and professional hockey in general start to see more and more undersized players making an impact, many previously overlooked forwards are now being valued for their speed and skill. One of those, Justin Azevedo, is a perfect example. The 5’7″ forward found tremendous success in junior hockey before being selected in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Kings in 2008. After four successful years in the AHL without a single game at the NHL, he left for the international circuit, first heading to Finland before finding a home in the KHL.
The 30-year old Azevedo was recently named Gagarin Cup MVP after scoring 24 points in 19 games for the champion Ak Bars Kazan, and has been given a reward for that success. The team has re-signed the diminutive forward to a two-year contract, ending any speculation that he could consider a return to North America.
Playoff success is no new thing to Azevedo, who has led league postseason scoring in the OHL, Liiga and KHL in various years. Seemingly always showing up at the most important time, he even recorded 21 points in 27 AHL playoff games before heading overseas. It may be too late for him to ever make an impact in the NHL, and no guarantee that he’d even find success if someone were to give him a chance. For now, any fans will have to tune into his KHL matchups to see what he has on tap for an encore performance next season.