2008-09: Joe Sova appeared in all 39 games as a freshman for the University of Alaska. He scored 3 goals with 7 assists and was +6 and had 42 PMs on a Nanooks team that finished a surprising fourth in the CCHA and reached the conference tournament semifinals.
2009-10: Sova led all Nanooks defensemen in points (24) as a sophomore at the University of Alaska. He skated in all 39 games for the Nanooks and scored 6 goals with 18 assists. Sova was +1 and had 30 PMs as Alaska finished fifth in the CCHA.
2010-11: Sova made his pro debut with AHL Albany after signing an entry-level contract with New Jersey following his junior season at the University of Alaska. Sova appeared in 11 games for the Albany Devils, who had the fewest points in the AHL, and scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was -6 with 2 PMs. In 37 college games with Alaska, he scored 4 goals with a team-leading 20 assists, had an even plus/minus and had 60 PMs. Sova scored 3 of his 4 goals on the power play for the Nanooks, who finished seventh in the 11-team CCHA. Alaska reached the conference quarterfinals after upsetting Michigan State in back-to-back overtime games.
2011-12: Sova split the first half of the season between Devils' affiliates Albany (AHL) and Kalamazoo (ECHL) before being acquired by the Hurricanes as part of the Alexei Ponikarovsky trade in January 2012. Sova finished the year with Hurricanes' AHL affiliate Charlotte and was minus-10 with 4 assists and 6 penalty minutes in 20 games. Sova was assigned to ECHL Florida for the playoffs and had 3 assists in seven games as the Everblades won the Kelly Cup.
Sova is a big mobile defenseman that moves really well with the puck on his stick. He was arguably Alaska's best all-around defenseman the last two years. The area that Sova has improved in most has been in how he uses his frame. He can be physical and can deliver some very solid checks, but he's also using it more effectively in shutting down opposing players as well as protecting the puck better when he has it. His positional play has also improved as well. He makes good decisions and he's become smarter about when to and not to jump up into the play. He also has a bomb of a shot which should play very well on the power-play.
While likely not a top four talent, Sova could eventually emerge into a solid third-pairing blue liner who can contribute on the power-play.
Photo: Defenseman Ryan Murphy is not only the top prospect for the Carolina Hurricanes but among the top defensive prospects in all of hockey. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Kellner)
One could argue that since the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes, the franchise has never had the true number one defenseman most teams covet. Even the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning team was a mash-up of role players.