With the 2012 NHL Draft only a couple weeks away, we are continuing to look at possible prospects the Dallas Stars are looking at with the 13th overall selection. I started with center Brendan Gaunce (read here), then I took some time to look at center Radek Faksa (right here), before covering Zemgus Girgensons earlier this week (read up). In each post I will look at the prospect, what he brings to the table, where he could go in the first round, and why the Stars should be looking at him. Starting today I will look at a few defensemen and non-centers that could be on the board. Be sure to Follow Blackout Dallas on Twitter and LIKE on Facebook for more discussions and as always feel free to ask any hockey questions you might have!
The Dallas Stars likely added a future top-pairing defenseman last summer when they drafted Jamie Oleksiak in the first round. Who is to say that if the right center isn’t there, they should pass over the chance to add another? The 6’2″ and 200+ pound Ceci definitely looks like a do-it-all blueliner that will be play top minutes soon for an NHL team. Ceci comes into the draft with quite a bit of experience, having finished three full seasons in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s, something that few other top prospects ever have when going into the draft. With 17 goals and 43 assists in 64 games this season, he climbed up many draft boards from someone on the edge of being in the top 40-50 guys to likely being a top 10-12 pick. With each season in the OHL, Ceci has shown considerable improvement each season and he capped it off by putting up 15 points in 18 playoffs games recently.
Ceci is getting raved about constantly this year, and with each great report about the defenseman you keep hearing scouts rave in his feet and IQ. His mobility, agility, and knowledge of when to act and where to be on the ice make him one of the best blueliners in this stacked defensemen class. He has a confident, calm demeanor on the ice impresses, and he consistently shows that he is one of the smartest players on the ice when he is out there. To go with that, he has been described as an all-around player, excelling at playing in every situation and eating minutes nightly. Add in one of the best shots in the draft class and the ability to run a powerplay, and he looks like a great package of size, smarts, skating ability, and a heavy shot. The only consistent knock on him is that for his size, he needs to be more physical moving forward. While he will play physical and can check, he lacks the mean side and regular heavy hits that could definitely help as he transitions into the majors.
Ceci’s hallmark is his minute-eating: The 6’2 200-plus pound blueliner plays in all scenarios, in all manpower-situations for the 67s. The third-year defender is a capable distributor and triggerman on the powerplay. A solid skating game and excellent passing abilities mean that Ceci works well as a puck-mover, whether throwing the puck to teammates or jumping up into the rush himself. On the attack, Ceci brings a powerful shot from the point while still capable of playing the role of quarterback. – Corey Pronman – ESPN and Hockey Prospectus Draft Writer
Why the Dallas Stars should draft him: Because if they are not sold on any center available at 13th and Ceci is there, he will be the most talented player available. While the team does need centers, they have a pair of 2nd round picks where they will likely take at least one center anyways. Ceci looks like a sure top 2-3 defenseman and possible cornerstone of a core for a long time. If he can add a little more physicality to his game, a future pairing of him with Oleksiak could be the Stars version of Keith & Seabrook or Weber & Suter. With three full years of major junior experience under his belt, he is likely to be ready to go pro this fall or next. Right now he projects as a solid two-way defenseman that can lead a powerplay and play in all situations, something the Stars could definitely benefit from adding to their mix.
He will be drafted around: Cody Ceci will come off the board somewhere in between 9th and 14th. If by chance he does end up at 12th, I don’t think he lasts much longer as the Sabres, Stars, and Flames all would have to be sold on someone to pass on him. There are quite a few defenseman in the mix from picks 6th-16th, almost all looking like great picks. But Ceci’s stock has been on the rise this year and with the mix of what he could bring to a team, just about everyone should be eyeing him after the top 6-7 players.
NHL players that he compares to: Think about guys like Brent Burns and one of my current favorites Brent Seabrook, or maybe Michael Del Zotto with a little more size.