TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 13: 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Joe Nieuwendyk takes part in the Hall blazer presentation prior to the Legends of Hockey game at the Air Canada Centre on November 13, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Our latest profile on an NHL draft prospect looks at Cody Ceci, an American defenseman with an advanced offensive game who would give the Stars front office an interesting decision if he fell to No. 13.
This week's draft profile is over our first non-center, defenseman Cody Ceci. Ceci is the fastest rising player in this year's draft and will go into it as a potential top-10 pick after spending most of the year as a mid-to-late round guy. Ceci is ranked as the 6th best American skater in this draft and third best defensive prospect. It's pretty much a lock now that he'll be going in the top 15 picks and he's one of the few defensemen that I would be OK with if the Stars took him.
While he may be listed as a defenseman, it's the offensive side of the ice where he's especially valuable. The 18-year-old has good size to him (6'2" and around 210 lbs) and has used it well during his three years in the OHL with the Ottawa 67's. He's continuously improved his game (and his numbers as a result) and is now possibly the best offensive defenseman prospect in the entire draft. He finished this year as the second highest scorer among defensemen in the OHL with 60 points (17 goals and 43 assists) only behind Dougie Hamilton (a Boston Bruins top-10 pick from last season). He then proceeded to put up an impressive 15 points in 18 games during the OHL playoffs, cementing his rising stock as a top tier prospect.
Ceci also plays point on the power play and is easily one of those guys that will be leading a power play unit in the future (especially on this team). He had eight goals and two assists on the power play this season, second best on his team. He's a solid skater, an exceptional passer and possesses a cannon of a shot. He's a smart player and uses it well with his skillset on the offensive side of the ice. He's active with his pinches and has a good sense on when to be aggressive. It's tough not to see him as a future star in the league with the tools that he has. He played a lot of minutes with the 67's so he'll be more than ready to tackle minutes in the NHL.
While there's certainly plenty to gush about on the offensive end for Ceci, he's definitely not the most polished player on the other side of the ice. He doesn't use his size to play a physical game. He'll dish out hits here and there but he's not that intimidating type of player that he could easily become. He's not physical enough in front of his own net in moving out opponents. He's a good straight-line skater but his mobility can be an issue when he goes up against quicker skaters. A team that's looking for a true defenseman will have a hard time passing up other guys for Ceci.
Dallas already has one puck moving, offensive defenseman in Alex Goligoski, but Goose doesn't have the shot or size that Ceci has. Philip Larsen might be our next best version of Goose but he also has neither the size nor skill that Ceci has. No one else in the Stars group of defensemen is as good offensively as Ceci could be.
Guys like Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth and Troy Vance are great defensive prospects in the organization, but that's exactly what they are, defensive. Ceci would automatically become the best offensive defensemen prospect and someone that could be fast-tracked to the NHL with a little more coaching. He's got the size and skill and would be a coveted right-handed shot from the blue line. Stephane Robidas and Larsen are the only defensemen on the current roster that play significant minutes and are right-handed shots.
I don't think Ceci reaches the Stars at #13 (it's tough to see him getting past the Winnipeg Jets at #9) but if he does, Dallas needs to take a long look at drafting Ceci, needs a center be damned. He just possesses so many things that the Stars need.