Top 25 Under 25, no. 7: Cody Ceci
Cody Ceci was the first-round draft choice of the Ottawa Senators last summer, and he shot up the prospect depth chart and stands at the seventh spot.
He's the highest-ranked prospect without pro experience, but not without reason: Cody Ceci is big, strong, fast, and very, very talented. Obviously nothing's certain about his future, but Ceci looks like he could end up as a steal at 15 overall--a draft placement the Ottawa Senators have had luck with before.
Defence / Ottawa Senators
Dec 21, 1993 (Age 19)
However, Cody Ceci's 2012-13 season has actually been a bit of a disappointment. Although there's no denying he spent most of the year in a tough situation with the 67s (he was traded to Owen Sound a month ago), it's still surprising to see that his points-per-game average has actually dropped since last year--especially since he started the season with four points in the season opener. Also, perhaps due in part to the NHL lockout, Ceci was left of Canada's world junior team.
Still, 47P (12G, 35A) in 53GP is nothing to scoff at. With his recent move from the OHL-worst Ottawa 67s to the playoff-bound Owen Sound Attack, most in Ottawa are hoping that Ceci can get back to playing meaningful hockey again. The fact that he's a leader on the Owen Sound blue line--he's by far the most potent offensive defenceman there--means he'll get a lot of responsibility and plenty of opportunities.
Since Ottawa's got quite a few young defenders really pushing for NHL time (Patrick Wiercioch and Mark Borowiecki chief among them), Ceci may end up spending yet another year in major junior next season. (Editor's note: Due to his late birthday, Ceci is AHL-eligible for next season, so it seems likely the Sens would put him there. H/t to Monteith16 for the note.) If he does, the Sens will expect him to dominate, hopefully in the OHL and in the World Junior Championships. It might not be the ideal situation for him, but Ceci's going to have to make the best of it.
His time will come, and when it does, Ceci will be part of what's starting to look like a very, very good young blue line.