With younger, cheaper, and frankly, better options available, let’s explore why Cody Ceci’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs should come to an end.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Ceci from the Ottawa Senators on July 1, 2019. He was the centerpiece return of a trade that saw fan-favorite Connor Brown and the much-lambasted Nikita Zaitsev (and all of his horrendous contract) head the other way.
It was a price worth paying at the time; a versatile forward who was pushed down the depth chart into a fourth-liner and Zaitsev, who had simply become a contract the Leafs could not afford to keep, in exchange for a former first-round pick who could perhaps go through a bit of a career resurrection with the change in scenery.
As the days and months have passed, however, I’ve found myself wistfully thinking of names like Roman Polak, Matt Hunwick, and Ron Hainsey, and wishing that any of them were still Leafs instead of Ceci (and trust me, I had absolutely no love for Polak as a player during his time here!).
There is a multitude of reasons why Kyle Dubas and company should admit defeat and let Ceci go when the time (eventually) comes for contract renewals, and I will explore all angles of it in order of importance.
Dollars and Nonsense
First and foremost, the Toronto Maple Leafs likely won’t be able to afford what Ceci will be seeking.
This off-season will mark Ceci’s first foray into unrestricted free agency, and he will undoubtedly be seeking a salary that is at least comparable, if not greater than, what he currently makes with the Leafs.
He will likely also be looking for term. Given the predisposition for NHL GMs to overpay for free agents, the Leafs should cut and run the minute Ceci’s representation asks for a cent above league minimum.
A Stanley Cup-winning team in this day and age doesn’t have a player of Ceci’s low caliber making any sort of percentage of an already-limited salary cap.
Cody Ceci is bad anywhere above the bottom pairing. No matter what metrics you use to try and quantify his place on this team, he is a fringe-NHL level defenceman (at best).
I have an unpopular opinion that you could insert any of the regular blueliners from the ECHL Newfoundland Growlers into his place and net better results. That’s obviously an over-exaggeration, but the reality is, this team suffers when Ceci is on the ice.
Far too often have I noticed Ceci abandon his defensive assignment on what should be a routine play.
He rarely ever uses his size to fight for position in front of the net and is far too eager to jump up into an offensive rush when he has no business being part of it.
Decision making and common sense seems to be facets of the game in which he severely lacks, and should the 2019-20 season resume, I, for one, don’t see the point in even dressing him, assuming the rest of the defensive corps are healthy.
I’m sure part of the thought process in acquiring Ceci was to make him sort of a reclamation project, to try and rehabilitate him into the player he had the potential to be after several years of declining quality in Ottawa.
This project failed utterly and completely on every level, Ceci simply is what he is now, and nothing will change that.
Whether this season resumes or not, we have likely seen the last of Cody Ceci in a Leafs uniform. And frankly, that’s for the best.