As expected, the Edmonton Oilers have added Cody Ceci to the mix according to Darren Dreger of TSN. The veteran defenseman has signed a four-year deal that will carry an average annual value of $3.25MM. The Oilers moved out Ethan Bear earlier today to make room for Ceci and the re-signed Tyson Barrie.
The Oilers are hoping that having Barrie and Ceci lead the right side of their defense works out better than it did for the Toronto Maple Leafs not long ago. Obviously, the team is already familiar with Barrie, but they are taking a risk on Ceci. Edmonton is banking on Ceci playing like he did this past season in Pittsburgh for the next four years and not like how he played in Toronto and Ottawa before that. The Penguins succeeded with Ceci in not asking him to do too much and letting him focus on just playing competent defense in limited minutes and against less difficult match-ups. At $3.25MM and on a longer term deal than any other Edmonton defense, it does not seem like the Oilers plan to let Ceci sit back and play a depth role. They risk poor results if they push him into too great a role, trying to replace the departed Adam Larsson, which could make this a difficult contract for the team.
Ceci, 27, may have learned enough from his season in Pittsburgh that he can try again at serving in a top-four role. Ceci averaged 21:25 per game through his first six full NHL seasons, during which time he was a combined -48 rating. This year, he played just 18:31 per game and earned a +18 rating. While moving the puck will likely never be a strength of Ceci’s, perhaps he is ready to take on more of a shutdown approach if handed more minutes. How the Oilers choose to use Ceci will almost certainly dictate whether he is able to succeed in Edmonton.