Persistence pays off: JJ signs NHL deal

Doyle Woody,Adn Staff

This is one of those couldn't-feel-better deals: Justin Johnson (JJ to everyone) of Anchorage, who is in his fourth season in the AHL and is a study in believing in yourself, today got upgraded to an NHL contract by the New York Islanders.

The former East High, UAA and Alaska Aces winger, 32, didn't make it at first in the ECHL, finally got up to the AHL in his late 20s and has carved out a nice, and some would say unlikely career one step below the NHL.

The NHL deal does not guarantee he will ever play in the world's best league -- he's still with AHL Bridgeport, the Islanders' affiliate, but with this guy, we've learned never to say never.

Plan to speak with JJ by phone in the next hour or so, and we'll have something in Tuesday's dead-trees edition of the ADN on his remarkable rise.