At the start of the 2011-12 season, Cody Ceci was not projected to be a top 10 National Hockey League Draft pick.
What a difference a season can make.
Ceci rocketed from 16th to sixth among North American skaters in the NHL’s Central Scouting Services rankings after nearly doubling his point total from the previous season and finishing strong with a 15-point run to the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final.
According to the Carolina Hurricanes chief of amateur scouting Tony MacDonald, performing well in the regular season is one thing; a productive postseason – when the stakes are higher and the competition is greater – separates the NHL-ready from those who need to be groomed.
“He’s a big, strong guy. He skates reasonably well. He puts up numbers,” MacDonald said. “He’s an offensive-defenseman, but he defends well enough that he’s certainly not a liability defensively, either.”
Ceci finished his third season with the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL with 60 points (17g, 43a), ranking second among OHL defensemen in scoring, behind only Dougie Hamilton, who was selected ninth by the Boston Bruins in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Ceci added 15 points (2g, 13a) in 18 playoff games, bolstering his rise in the CSS rankings.
|HOMETOWN: OTTAWA, ONTARIO |
|HEIGHT: 6-2 |
|WEIGHT: 203 |
|BIRTHDAY: DEC. 21, 1993 (AGE 18) |
While Ceci’s offensive game is polished and among the best of the defensemen available in the draft, his defensive game is less so, largely because it lacks a physical element. But, according to MacDonald, that isn’t too much of a concern; Ceci has been a steady plus player in his three-year OHL career, finishing last season with a career-high plus-21. The 6-foot-2, 203-pound blueliner makes up for what he lacks in physical play by being positionally sound.
“He doesn’t play a tough, physical game, but he defends well enough,” he said.
Ceci projects to be a future power play quarterback. Playing the point with the 67s last season, Ceci led his team defense with eight power play goals and was considered by scouts to be one of the premier power-play defensemen in the OHL. He even added two shorthanded goals, exemplifying the prolific type of 200-foot game he is capable of.
MacDonald noted that Ceci is a very creative hockey mind who is calm and composed with the puck and moves it accurately. When describing his strengths, Ceci hits on many of the same aspects: he makes the first pass well, and he has an authoritative point shot.
In November, Ceci was one of just three 2012 Draft-eligible defensemen to earn an invitation to Team Canada’s 41-man camp for the World Junior Championship. Though he did not make the final roster, he advanced to the last round of cuts with Canes defensive prospect Ryan Murphy and two others.
The 18-year-old Ottawa native is the son of a figure-skating mother and a father who was CFL wide-receiver. Ceci began skating when he was three. After playing junior hockey in his hometown with the Ottawa 67’s, it would only be fitting for the Ottawa Senators to select Ceci and complete his hockey trifecta. The Sens pick 15th, but after the season he put together, Ceci might not make it out of the top 10.