June 21 2012 07:36PM
The final, primary target in the FN series is the Ottawa '67s Cody Ceci. A big defender with excellent offensive potential, Ceci finished second in defender scoring in Ontario last year with 17 goals and 60 points in just 64 games. Only former top-10 pick Dougie Hamilton scored more (72 points in 50 games).
What's interesting and about Ceci - and what makes him a highly ranked defender in this year's draft - is that his offensive totals don't come with the caveat of poor defensive abilities. At 6'02" and 203 pounds, Ceci is already NHL sized and most scouting reports say he has a solid all around game. Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman notes that Ceci thinks the game at a high level and is fact excellent in his own zone:
Ceci is an above-average skater who skates very well for a bigger player. He's fluid, but not extremely fast but he really gets around in all directions well, activates efficiently off the point, and looks technically sound in his movements. Ceci is a plus thinker who sees the ice very well, can make good split second decisions, and is able to quarter back the power play. He also has a pretty good shot that he leans into as a trigger man on the power play.
Ceci is an advanced defensive player who uses his stick well to break up plays, reads his assignments fine, and has become a physical threat this year. He's filled out his body well and shows fine strength boxing forwards out of the crease or with his board battles. Ceci's puck skills are about average, but he creates offense the way a lot of coaches like as he generates a quick transition game and is a very good passer. Ceci is also a pretty well-conditioned player who logged ridiculous minutes this past season, typically at times playing 30 minutes a game.
Strengths: hockey IQ, size, shot, conditioning, passing
Weakness: not overly fast or creative
Not a lot to dislike there. Like Pronman, Future Considerations ranked Ceci just outside the top-10 and had a lot of good things to say about his game:
Always known as a strong defense- first defenseman, Ceci is now showing that he has some interesting offensive upside. He was aggressive with the puck, skating it out of his end and either passing it off to a teammate or skating it into the offensive zone. He has one of the strongest shots in the league, both accurate and heavy. He has smart positioning in his own end. He has really improved his puck skills and is showing the ability to create offense from the back end. He has the size and strength to consistently win puck battles down low at his own end.
The only negatives FC could note was Ceci could probably be more physical given his size and that it's somewhat questionable if his offense will translate in the NHL because he's not terribly creative.
It's hard to ignore a blueliner who finished at the top of the league in scoring with a near PPG pace when what the scouts and pundits talk about most is his impressive defensive game. The only other potential "negative" against the kid is he is one of the older draft eligibles this year, with a December 1993 birthday.
Ceci almost universally pops up around 10-12 in rankings and mock drafts, so he's one of the guys the Flames will have to hope slides a bit if they have their eyes on him.
Probability he will be available at 14: Low
Probability the Flames will (would) take him: High