At some point, Cody Ceci might ask someone to pinch him to make sure he really is awake.
On Thursday, Ceci added a pot of gold to what had already been a dream summer, signing a three-year entry level contract with the Ottawa Senators.
The Ottawa born, Ottawa 67′s star defenceman was drafted by the Senators 15th overall at the NHL entry draft in June, attended the NHL’s club conditioning camp and earlier this month was part of an all-star Canadian junior squad which played a four-game exhibition series against Russian stars in Moscow and Halifax.
Then came Thursday’s deal, which Ceci acknowledges was spurred by concerns that he didn’t want to get “screwed over” by potential changes to entry level contracts under a new NHL collective bargaining agreement.
“It’s a pretty great feeling,” Ceci, who turns 19 in December, said in an interview on the Team 1200. “It’s every kid’s dream to sign that big contract.”
The contract signing came as somewhat of a surprise, considering that Ceci is likely headed back to the 67′s for the 2012-13 season. If there’s no agreement between the NHL and the players’ association on a new CBA before the current deal expires Sept. 15, Ceci won’t even have an NHL training camp to attend.
“I didn’t know what the plans were, but I was seeing a lot of (other) first rounders signing,” he said. “There has been a lot of talk about changes to entry level contracts.”
The NHL has proposed the idea of four-year contracts for players entering the league, which would be a disadvantage to young players because it would delay the process for signing a second deal.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray was excited to have his latest first round pick under contract before any changes happen.
If there is an NHL training camp – an unlikely scenario at this point – Murray says Ceci will be allowed to showcase himself in the hopes of stepping directly into the league.
“We’re going to give him an opportunity in our training camp to perform and hopefully compete for a job with our team and we’ll let him basically decide his fate in that position. We know he’s a guy that will be a real serious candidate.”
Ceci scored 17 goals and 43 assists in 64 regular season games with the 67′s in 2011-12 and added another two goals and 13 assists in 18 playoff games.
Murray figures that Ceci will eventually become a sound defensive defenceman, but for now, he says his offensive skills give him an edge.
“He does real nice things with the puck,” said Murray, referring to Ceci’s strong shot, his passing talent and his ability to join an offensive rush. “Down the road, he’s going to be an all-around kind of player and he’s going to score some points because of his shot.”
Whether Ceci ends up with the Senators or the 67′s, Murray knows he won’t have to go far to see him play. The 67′s are playing their home games at Scotiabank Place, due to construction at Lansdowne Park.
“We’re going to get a lot of viewings of him,” said Murray.