The Penguins have added some defensive depth to the right side of their back end as they announced the signing of Cody Ceci to a one-year contract. The deal is worth $1.25MM, a significant drop from the $4.5MM he made last season. GM Jim Rutherford released the following statement about his new acquisition:
Cody is a two-way defenseman who plays with size and a speed game that fits our system well. He brings both regular season and playoff experience, and can be utilized on the penalty kill.
The 26-year-old was able to hit the open market a year earlier than most as he has seven NHL seasons under his belt. He spent last season with Toronto after they acquired him from Ottawa last summer and his role decreased as a result as he averaged 20:32 per night, his lowest ATOI in four years. With the Maple Leafs also having more offensively-gifted options in front of him, he wasn’t put in many offensive situations either and as a result, Ceci managed just a goal and seven assists in 56 regular season games.
While he is known for some untimely defensive lapses, Ceci should be able to provide some more minutes than the Penguins have typically received from their third pairing as Kris Letang and John Marino are ahead of him on the depth chart. At first glance, he could be lining up alongside fellow newcomer Mike Matheson who was recently acquired from Florida. Jack Johnson (buyout) and Justin Schultz (free agency) have both moved on from last year.
Ceci was ranked 30th on our Top 50 UFA list and while his first trip in unrestricted free agency didn’t yield the type of contract he was certainly looking for, a good season with Pittsburgh could help restore some value before hitting the open market next offseason still as one of the youngest blueliners available. Meanwhile, the Penguins have a little over $1.3MM in cap space remaining per CapFriendly with a full roster. That doesn’t leave much more room for offseason additions but if they carry that much into next year, they should have a decent cushion built up closer to the trade deadline.
TSN’s Darren Dreger was the first to report the contract.