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Cody Ceci is bad

Maybe it doesn’t need to be said that Cody Ceci is bad or maybe it needs to be said less frequently. It seems like not only has the horse been beaten at this point, but it is now a powder so fine that half of the NHL is trying to stick it up their noses.

Of course, it kinda does need to be said, because Cody Ceci is still playing north of 20 minutes every single night. Well, that’s a small exaggeration, he did have a game with 19:48 and another with 19:50 of ice time, but that exaggeration is offset by the six times he’s somehow been given over 24 minutes of ice time. And a not so fun fact is that the results are often ugly.

There’s also this from Dubas

Since that quote from Dubas, Cody Ceci has played in nine games. In those 9 games he’s had a GF% over 50% just once, he’s had CF% over 50% 3 times, and a xGF% over 50% twice. His numbers relative to his teammates are worse, as he’s only had 2 games with positive relative corsi and only one game with positive relative expected goals for. The Leafs won 4 of those games.

Game # GF GA GF% CF CA CF% CF Rel xGF xGA xGF% xGF Rel ES TOI
21 2 2 50 25 18 58.14 2.88 0.49 1.48 24.98 (26.28) 16:42
22 1 1 50 17 15 53.13 (10.94) 0.29 0.94 23.83 (26.45) 19:52
23 0 0 24 27 47.06 (9.03) 1.14 0.92 55.51 (0.44) 19:27
24 0 0 14 20 41.18 (27.06) 0.41 0.86 32.27 (37.94) 18:40
25 0 0 12 21 36.36 (15.75) 0.19 0.76 19.7 (45.73) 19:40
26 3 0 100 34 16 68 6.81 2.12 0.71 75.03 10.34 19:48
27 0 1 0 10 19 34.48 (24.21) 0.38 0.51 42.89 (7.96) 18:07
28 0 1 0 21 28 42.86 (14.96) 0.5 1.02 32.84 (22.17) 19:57
29 0 1 0 3 23 11.54 (43.69) 0.01 1.43 0.71 (58.99) 17:10

That’s ungood. And it’s getting steadily worse as the year goes on…

Still at this point Ceci’s numbers aren’t as terrible as we’d probably expect or how they’ve been in the past, but he’s certainly regressing back to where he was in performance wise in Ottawa.

2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
GF% 41.30 41.67 52.50
CF% 44.34 43.96 50.28
xGF% 43.60 45.46 48.38

Unfortunately, he’s benefiting from Morgan Rielly, who has made a career out of propping up bad defensemen.

Rielly with Ceci Rielly without Ceci
TOI 421.17 100.47
CF% 50.48 56.54
xGF% 48.46 58.31

In short, Cody Ceci is bad.

That’s nice and all but what are the Leafs supposed to do with that information?

For starters, I think it’s safe to say that playing him on average of 22:13 a night is a little much. Scaling that back by about 7 minutes or so seems like a pretty good start. Along with that it seems like reducing the quality of competition he is facing might allow the Leafs to assess if he’s a train wreck defenseman or just a train wreck top pairing defenseman.

When looking at Ceci’s numbers against different levels of competition, he seems like he might be capable of thriving in a bottom pairing role.

TOI CF% GF%
Elite 233.47 51.6 46.2
Middle 190.08 47.1 50
Gritensity 89.98 53.5 63.6
via PuckIQ

Assuming that Rielly is still anchored to Ceci for the time being, it seems entirely possible that the Leafs give Rielly situational shifts with Holl or Barrie to not drop his ice time into oblivion, or perhaps less appealing to some is the idea of switching out Dermott for Rielly and make Dermott ride shotgun with Ceci.

The preferred approach to Cody Ceci is probably to just get rid of him, and while we may merrily laugh to ourselves about what team may want him, it’s important to remember that Jack Johnson, Kris Russell, Erik Gudbranson, and many others just like them are still gainfully employed around the league and frequently sought after.

Ceci being an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year potentially helps the Leafs case. They could probably help their case more through salary retention, as ridiculous as the notion may seem when we’re constantly pointing out that there isn’t any money available. The fact is, the Leafs would still be ahead dollars wise if they retained, and it seems there isn’t any shortage of Marlies capable of performing at the same level or higher than Ceci has this year, and especially of late.

Finally, the Leafs could just waive him. I’m sure the organization isn’t there yet even if a lot of us are. The Leafs get more cap relief in sending Ceci down than they would in one of their regular Marlies, and that little bit of money equates to a few extra bucks towards a backup goaltender or a bit more flexibility somewhere down the line, it also opens up a spot to try Sandin or Liljegren in, but in reality it would just be the return of Marincin, which probably is a strong case for weathering the Ceci storm, but in a non top pairing way.

No matter what happens, it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to ignore that Cody Ceci is bad.

Data sourced from:

Hockey Reference
Natural Stat Trick
Puck IQ