Former Shield Forward Nikita Jevpalovs Re-Signs with the Laval Rocket (AHL)
This will be his second season with the Rocket and fourth in the AHLMay 30th, 2019 at 8:56AM May 30th, 2019 2:10PM
Laval, Quebec- Former South Muskoka Shield Forward Nikita Jevpalovs has re-signed with the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, for the 2019-2020 Season.
Jevpalovs joined the GMHL in 2010-2011 playing for the South Muskoka Shield as a 16 year-old rookie. Jevpalovs impact on the Shields offense was felt immediately, becoming one of the top players in the league. Jevpalovs put up 48 Goals 43 Assists for 91 Points in only 41 Regular Season Games and was the South Muskoka Shield top point scorer for the team as a rookie. This was an impressive feat, and the league took notice, and Jevpalovs was voted GMHL Rookie of the Year and GMHL Top Forward. Jevpalovs continued his dominant play into the playoffs, leading the South Muskoka Shield to the Russell Cup Finals, posting 9 Goals 18 Assists for 27 Points in only 16 Games Played, before bowing out to the eventual Champions the Eliot Lake Bobcats in seven games. After an incredible year with the Shield, Jevpalovs took his first step to the next level, playing Russian Major Juniors in the MHL for HK Riga.
Jevpalovs continued his offensive production at the Major Junior level, posting 8 Goals 13 Assists for 21 Points in 58 Games Played, however he most stood out at the international stage where he was Captain for Latvia’s World Junior U18 team, and played for their World Junior U20 team, playing in the World Junior Championships, which hosts the best hockey prospects in the world, such as Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and many more. Jevpalovs put up close to a point-per a game posting 2 Goals 3 Assists for 5 Points in 6 Games Played, earning him U20 WJC Top 3 Player on Team. This garnered the attention of teams around the world, and soon Jevpalovs was drafted in the 1st Round #40 Overall of the CHL Draft by the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL. Jevpalovs would go on to play three years with the Armada, where he would become a franchise player, amassing 95 Goals 98 Assists for 193 Points in 185 Regular Season Games Played, and 14 Goals 16 Assists for 30 Points in 40 Playoff Games Played. Jevpalovs best year in the QMJHL was his final year in 2014-2015 where he earned the honours of being Assistant Captain, and put up 49 Goals 51 Assists for 100 Points in only 64 Games Played. After four years at the Major Junior level, Jevpalovs was ready to make the jump to professional hockey, and he earned a two-year contract with the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.
Jevpalovs would split his first year with the Barracuda between the ECHL and the AHL. Although Jevpalovs didn’t put up the best numbers at the AHL level, he proved that he just needed time to develop, and was a force to be reckoned with in the ECHL. In the ECHL, he scored 1 Goal 5 Assists for 6 Points in 5 Regular Season Games Played, and 2 Goals 6 Assists for 8 Points in 15 Playoff Games Played en route to a Kelly Cup (the ECHL Championship). Jevpalovs contribution to a Championship at the ECHL level earned him a solid spot in the AHL the following year where he would play the full season with the Barracuda. Jevpalovs put up 13 Goals 8 Assists for 21 Points in 65 Games Played in the 2016-2017 Season. Jevpalovs decided the following year to return home to Latvia for a season and play for his hometown team, Dinamo Riga, which plays out of the KHL, which is arguably the second best league in the world. Jevpalovs would put up 5 Goals 3 Assists for 8 Points in 46 Games Played for Dinamo Riga. Jevpalovs turned his attention back to North American hockey, where he has signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate team, the Laval Rockets for the 2018-2019 Season. Jevpalovs was an important asset to the Laval squad, posting 13 Goals 12 Assists for 25 Points in 69 Games Played, including some highlight reel goals, such as a spin-o-rama backhand goal, and a through the legs breakaway goal in over time. The Rockets were happy with Jevpalovs production, and have re-upped him to another one-year deal.
Between the QMJHL, ECHL, AHL, and KHL, Jevpalovs has played among the highest levels of hockey in the world that has seen players such as: Sidney Crosby (QMJHL), Alexander Ovechkin (KHL), Zdeno Chara (AHL), and Mike Hoffman (ECHL). The GMHL is proud to see one of its alumni playing at this level of hockey, and we hope to see Jevpalovs continue his success at the professional level.