When the Senators demoted defenceman Mark Borowiecki, along with forward Derek Grant earlier this month, it raised a few eyebrows among Sens fans.
Both Borowiecki and Grant played well during their auditions but still got caught up in a numbers game, and were ultimately sent back to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. With the team operating on a strict internal budget, they were reluctant to carry extra players on the roster and the two way contracts of Borowiecki and Grant made them vulnerable.
The Senators may soon find themselves in a similar situation with last night’s overtime hero.
Cody Ceci has been impressive in his short audition. Called up on an emergency basis with Cowen was suspended and Methot out with the flu, Ceci hit the ground running. The 19 year old, who turns 20 on Saturday, has not looked out of place in his first three games. Ceci has averaged 19:55 a game, playing more than 20 minutes in wins over the Sabres and the Blues. Paired with veteran Chris Phillips, Ceci has quickly earned the trust of Head Coach Paul MacLean, getting ice time on both the power play and the penalty kill, as well as late in close games.
And on Monday night, he gave the hometown crowd one of the most exciting moments of the first half, as his point shot beat Brian Elliott, giving the Senators a huge overtime win over one of the league’s top teams.
While it’s too quick to pass judgement, Ceci certainly looks like he belongs at the NHL level. You never want to rush a teenage defenceman but as long as he’s playing well and looks comfortable, he’s an asset to the team.
And that’s where things get a little tricky for the Senators. As was the case when Borowiecki was on the roster, the team now has eight healthy defenceman on the roster. Ceci was recalled on an emergency basis but with Cowen returning last night, the team made the recall official. And while Bryan Murray says he’s fine carrying eight defenceman, it’s not a long term solution. The team has explored trading Joe Corvo or Eric Gryba in the past but with limited interest. Waivers could be another option for one of those two but to be fair, both have actually been pretty solid in their appearances so far this season.
With Mark Borowiecki, contract status was eventually the deciding factor in his demotion. Despite playing well and providing the team with a spark, the organization’s reluctance to carry eight defenceman meant that Borowiecki was returned to Binghamton. Cody Ceci is hoping to make it impossible for the team to send him back down any time soon.
- -Robin Lehner gets the start in the Ottawa goal tomorrow. MacLean indicated that Marc Methot is ready to return but that they’ll wait and see about inserting him into the line up.