It hasn’t taken long for the Maple Leafs to work out a contract for new acquisition Cody Ceci. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports (Twitter link) that defenseman has verbally agreed to a one-year, $4.5MM contract with Toronto.
Ceci was officially acquired earlier today as part of a six-player swap that sent blueliner Nikita Zaitsev and winger Connor Brown to the Senators as the other notable players in the trade. Interestingly enough, this contract matches what Zaitsev’s AAV is, meaning that the cap savings from the trade basically amounts to the different between Brown’s contract and that of Ben Harpur’s (a difference of $1.375MM). Of course, Zaitsev has four years left on his deal after 2019-20 while Ceci will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at that time.
Ceci earns a small $200K raise on his contract from last season and will hope that a new team will bolster his market value. He was miscast as a top-pairing option with the Senators due to their limited defensive depth and he was exposed in that role. With the Maple Leafs, he shouldn’t be counted on to log as much ice time which could make him a better fit for them.
Next season will serve as an audition for the 25-year-old. A good showing with Toronto could help him earn a long-term contract with them or really bolster his case on the open market. However, if he struggles again, his value is going to take a dip as he’ll no longer have arbitration eligibility to help inflate his contract (where ice time is a large consideration). Needless to say, 2019-20 will be a critical season for Ceci.