PITTSBURGH — The Ottawa Senators had a messy board to deal with and a couple of above average forwards to choose from, but didn't wind up deviating from the trend and took a defenceman, the ninth taken in the first 15 picks. It was Cody Ceci, who plays for the 'other' franchise in Ottawa, the junior 67's.
Ceci, who brought a large cheering section to the Consol Energy Center, will join a team that already boasts arguably the best offensive defenceman in the NHL, Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Offence is one of the many skills Ceci brings to the table.
"Today's game almost demands that you have three or four guys on the back end who can contribute offensively and help the forwards get the puck going," Senators GM Bryan Murray said.
The 67's, thanks to renovations at their arena, are playing at Scotiabank Place next season. So Ceci will be scrutinized more than a first-rounder who goes back to Europe, college or a distant small town. Is that too much of a fishbowl life?
"That's what we like about him, he's one of those people who handles pressure really well," Murray said. "If he's not in our dressing room, he'll be next door and we'll let him grow and develop. The good thing about it is we have a good fitness centre there and he'll be able to work out with us every day."
Ceci's discipline that drew the Senators brass to selecting the local player. Ceci is a potential two-way player, "who doesn't have a standout skill other than his hockey sense" suggests Corey Pronman:
He's fluid, but not extremely fast but he really gets around in all directions well, activates efficiently off the point, and looks technically sound in his movements. Ceci is a plus thinker who sees the ice very well, can make good split second decisions, and is able to quarter back the power play.
Ceci is also described as "disciplined" and a player who had to settle in before taking too many offensive risks with the play on the line.
Ottawa 67's defenceman Cody Ceci (OHL Images)"At first I wasn't too nervous," said Ceci about his slide down to 15th, after several mock drafts (including Buzzing The Net's) had him going in the top 10. "then we started getting around to where I was ranked and I started to get pretty nervous."
"I like to think I can make the jump next year," said Ceci. "but I know that's really tough to do, especially with the size of guys in the NHL." Ceci is listed at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds and with a December birthdate, has played an extra year in the OHL.
Hometown hero: More than a 67's player-turned-Senator draft pick like Shane Prince, Ceci was also raised in the Ottawa area. Specifically, Orleans, a suburb 15 minutes east of Ottawa. Scotiabank Place is a 35-minute drive from the Cecis' home.
"I've played a few games at Scotiabank and it's a really, really nice rink," said Ceci, who was elated talking to reporters who assembled after his selection. "I played some lacrosse out there, lots of tournaments, so I really like that area."
"It was definitely in the back of my mind," he said about being selected by his childhood team. "I didn't know where I was going, and a lot of the guys didn't either."
"I remember just getting the tickets for Christmas and I thought it was just the best thing ever.