Pittsburgh Penguins: Newcomer Cody Ceci Looks To Build Off Defensively Strong 2019-2020

Photo Credit: Getty Images

We continue our look forward at the 2020-2021 Pittsburgh Penguins roster by looking at an analytical review of the previous season. Today will feature Cody Ceci.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to see a giant overhaul when it comes to their third pairing this season after Justin Schultz left via free agency, and Jack Johnson was bought out.

Mike Sullivan will have at least four defensemen to choice from, potentially on a nightly basis, to fill out the final two spots on his blue.

One of which will be Cody Ceci, a late and surprising signing for the Penguins as it furthered the potential logjam on the third pairing. 

Ceci, a former first round pick by the Ottawa Senators, spent last year with the Toronto Maple Leafs after a six-player trade before the season started. The trade included Connor Brown and Nikita Zaitsev heading over to Ottawa as well.

Taking on a more defensive role with the Maple Leafs, Ceci registered just eight points (1 G, 7 A) in 56 games last season. His career high in points is 26, a feat he has reached twice - in 2015-2016 (10 G, 16 A) and then again in 2018-2019 (7 G, 19 A).

While his basic stats weren’t eye popping, lets take a look at his advanced numbers and how he influenced play while he was on the ice. Remember this is just from last season.

Ceci: 2019-2020 By The Numbers

The former first round pick back in 2012, Ceci, took on a much more defensive role than years previously in Ottawa in his lone season with the Maple Leafs, starting the majority of his shifts in his own zone (47.18%).

Offensively, he didn’t contribute much to the Maple Leafs’, but that wasn’t a necessity with the offensive firepower they had at the forward position.

Metric

Number

Percentile Rank

Goals per 60

0.06

15.5%

Primary Assists per 60

0.19

28.4%

Points per 60

0.50

17.2%

Shots per 60

2.77

3.9%

Shooting %

2.27%

24.1%

Expected Goals per 60

0.14

22.0%

Giveaways per 60

1.45

85.3%

Takeaways per 60

0.63

26.7%

Ceci was able to limit turnovers when he had the puck on his stick, which will be key for him in Pittsburgh as the third pairing struggled in that category in previous seasons.

Outside of that Ceci rarely impacted the game with his own offensive prowess.

Metric

Number

Percentile Rank

Corsi For %

50.7%

61.6%

Goals For per 60

2.20

31.9%

Goals Against per 60

2.29

64.2%

Goals For %

49%

46.1%

Expected Goals For per 60

2.30

58.2%

Expected Goals Against per 60

2.17

65.5%

Expected Goals For %

51.49%

64.7%

High Danger Chances For %

52.82%

74.1%

High Danger Goals For %

47.54%

40.5%

On Ice Sh %

7.58%

36.2%

On Ice SV%

92.4%

65.9%

Offensive Zone Start %

47.18%


Compare a lot of these numbers from who played on the third pairing last season, and you can certainly see potential improvement. 

He didn’t push action towards the offensive end, although his possession numbers were good. What Ceci did do well was limit the opponent’s scoring and opportunities, and he did that on a team that wasn’t always the best defensively.

His on-ice save percentage was over a point better than the team’s average that finished 28th overall in the category at 5v5. The Maple Leafs also ranked 18th in xGA/60 with a 2.32 mark. Ceci finished with a 2.17 xGA/60, a mark that put him in the 65th percentile around the league.

Season Outlook

Defensively speaking, Ceci wasn’t horrible last season. He’s going to give you almost no offense, but going solely based off of last year, the Penguins definitely upgraded at that position. 

Ceci’s long term numbers are a lot more concerning, but also if you take into account the team he played for before Toronto, he may do even better on the Penguins.

Say what you will about Johnson and his time in Pittsburgh, the Penguins lost their top penalty killer in terms of time on ice when they bought him out.

Ceci himself led the Maple Leafs in penalty kill time on ice per game with 2:50 per contest. So the Penguins certainly got a replacement on their hands in that sense.

Along with Ceci, the Penguins also will have - at the very least - Chad Ruhwedel, Mike Matheson, and Juuso Riikola all vying for playing time on the third pair. 

While Matheson is more likely to see the majority of the playing time on the left side, Ruhwedel and Ceci are likely to fight it out for time on the right side.

If Ceci can build off of last season defensively, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the ice, especially with his experience on the penalty kill.

Follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy











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