The 67's finished last season first in their devision with a record 40-20-8 and a goal differential (shootout goals excluded) of +50.
Today they sit last in the OHL with a record of 8-23-3 and a goal differential of -44.
A season in which Cody Ceci was named co-captain along with Sean Monahan went off the rails pretty quickly. Losing the likes of Prince, Toffoli and Mrazek to the AHL is some part of the story, as are injuries/suspension to key players and a lineup who on many nights has simply looked overmatched. The 67's are icing a young, green roster and have generally played like it.
In spite of this, Ceci has been able to stay productive hovering around a point a game, although he's maintaining that production in a different way than last season:
Where last season Ceci was getting the majority of his points at even-strength, this season he's been reliant much more on the power-play. In fact he already has more power-play points through 34 games played than he did in all 64 last year.
Just for comparison sake here are Monahan's numbers:
Like Ceci he's upped his power-play production going from .37 pp-pts/g to .75, but his even-strength production is basically stable whereas Ceci's has completely fallen off.
On special teams, the 67's are actually +4 in goal differential, helped in no small part by having the league's best power-play clicking along at 31.7%.
But at even-strength they are getting killed:
|Season||GP||EV GF/g||EV GA/g|
Basically they're scoring one less, and giving up one more goal per game at even-strength as compared to last year. Their goal differential at evens is a brutal -48, and there are still 34 games left to play. While the OHL doesn't publish shot data by game state; the 67's have surrended 279 more shots than they've fired on the opposition net. There's good reason to believe most of these have been at even-strength.
So, with this information in hand it's not hard to see why Ceci is sporting a -17 and his production at evens has dropped off. Maybe the degree to which he''s been unable to produce offense 5on5 is a little surprising, but again he hasn't been given much help; with key players out of the lineup and his D partner in Cardwell being shipped out a month ago. Sam Cosentino remarked last week that he's "probably being overexposed in terms of his minutes", which I can say is probably a fair comment from the games I've been able to watch.
The day Hockey Canada released their list of players invited to the WJC selection camp, chief scout Kevin Prendergrast made this comment on Ceci's play:
"The summer tournament he did struggle a little bit, and certainly (that) is one of the things that stays in your mind with everybody, with the coaches and with myself as we go forward."
I went back and watched those August Russia/Canada games last week, and I can't say Ceci struggled 5on5 more than anyone else, and certainly not more than Ryan Murphy who was exposed repeatedly on international ice. But what I did notice is Ceci was the fifth or sixth option on the power-play behind Hamilton, Murphy, Ouellet, Reilly, and Dumba. If Ceci was going to get an invite it was going to be because they trusted him to play 5on5, not because they planned to use him on the power-play. And while there are lots of corroborating factors, if Hockey Canada brass was watching Ceci closely this fall they could have found reason not to trust his even-strength play.
News that the Senators have Jason Smith in and working with Ceci one-on-one illustrates the proactive approach they're taking with the asset. But a trade to a contender and playing meaningful games down the stretch and into the playoffs would most certainly do more for his development. The 67's have basically telegraphed their plans to rebuild/retool. Probably just a matter of when and where he lands at his point.