Kitchener Rangers fans will most likely not be surprised that Justin Azevedo currently sits fifth in overall scoring in the Russia based KHL. At 5’7″ and 165 lbs., Azevedo might not fit the North American style of hockey. But, since jumping to Europe in 2012-13, he has excelled at the elite level just fine.
Justin currently sits fifth with 16 points over 16 games with AK Bars Kazan. He is six points behind the leader, Alexander Radulov of CSKA Moscow.
Azevedo played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2004-05 to 2007-08, all with the Kitchener Rangers. At the 2004 OHL Priority Selection, he was picked 14th overall by the Rangers. Over his OHL career, Justin scored 107 while setting up 181 for 288 points over 235 regular season games. A good portion of that coming in his final season. In the playoffs, Azevedo added 58 points over 49 games for Kitchener.
In that 2007-08 season, the only thing Justin didn’t get was a Memorial Cup championship. Over 67 regular season games, he led the OHL with 124 points on 43 goals and 81 assists, earning him the Eddie Powers Trophy. In fact, his 124 points led all the CHL. Other accolades included: The Red Tilson Trophy as OHL MVP, CHL Player of the Year, Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as OHL playoff MVP, Ed Chynoweth Award for most points in the Memorial Cup tournament, along with First Team All-Star selections in the OHL and CHL.
From start to finish in 2007-08, Azevedo put up some pretty incredible numbers. Including the OHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup, he scored 57 and assisted on 114 for a whopping 171 points over 92 games.
After his final year in the OHL, the Los Angeles Kings selected Justin in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 153rd overall. Since 2008-09, he as played pro hockey in the AHL, Finland’s Liiga and the KHL.
Azevedo has been in the KHL since 2013-14 and this season is his second with Kazan. In May, he signed a two year extension with the club through 2016-17.
His impact in Europe was felt immediately back in 2012-13 with Lukko in Finland. He led all first year players with 28 points on 20 goals and 38 assists over 58 games. In the playoffs, he led all players with ten goals and 18 points over 14 games, despite Lukko being eliminated in the semi-finals by Tappara in a four game sweep.
AK Bars Kazan
Currently, Kazan sits eighth in the 14 team East Conference of the KHL. The franchise dates back to 1956 and was a charter member of the KHL when it formed for the 2008-09 season. AK Bars have never missed the KHL post season and were Gagarin Cup champs in 2008-09 and 2009-10. In 2014-15, Kazan fell in the finals to SKA St. Petersburg.
Home games are played at the modest Tatneft Arena in Kazan, Russia. The venue opened in 2005 and seats just under 9,000.
Kazan is located 800 kilometres due east of Moscow. The city of around 1.1 million is located on the banks of the Volga River. The city is considered the ‘Sports Capital of Russia’ and will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This is the birthplace of Barrie Colts alumnus Alexander Burmistrov.