Cody Ceci agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
The 26-year-old defenseman, who was an unrestricted free agent, scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 56 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and one goal in five Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“For me, I really just liked the opportunity there,” Ceci said. “I felt the fit was good and the team is obviously very good as well. So all around, I just thought the fit and the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup was there, and it worked for me. I talked to them a little bit over the past couple days and they just said they have some high-end offensive talent and they were looking to add a little more defensive guys with more defensive strengths to their lineup. They thought I’d fit well. I kind of agreed and just thought I was a good fit defensively for them.”
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Ceci, who was traded to the Maple Leafs by the Ottawa Senators on July 1, 2019, has scored 126 points (33 goals, 93 assists) in 496 regular-season games. He signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with Toronto three days after the trade.
“In the position we were in up against the [NHL salary] cap,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, “these are the kind of deals we’re looking for where we’re waiting for some of those guys who made a sizable amount last year and kind of slipped through the cracks for whatever reason. In Cody Ceci, he’s a guy that we feel can play a two-way game depending [on] what system he gets put in.
“… When we broke it down, we looked at where (coach) Mike [Sullivan] could put him in the lineup, have a comfort level and balance our defense, and everybody felt that there was a place for him. He kills penalties pretty well, he skates pretty well, and I’m sure that Todd Reirden, our new assistant coach who works well with defensemen, is going to work with him on a few things he’ll adjust in his game, and we’re really pleased that Cody came on board with us.”
Ceci said he was looking forward to being reunited with defenseman Mike Matheson, who the Penguins acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Sept. 24, and forward Kasperi Kapanen, who Pittsburgh acquired in a trade with Toronto on Aug. 25.
Ceci and Matheson were teammates in 2016 with Canada when it won the IIHF World Championship.
“[Matheson] just got moved [to Pittsburgh] this summer, so it’ll be nice to see him again,” Ceci said. “Maybe get a chance to play together again. Could even be a D-pair, so who knows? I know [Kapanen] as well, obviously from Toronto. We were pretty close there. So it’ll be good to see him again.”
Selected by Ottawa with the No. 15 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Ceci has scored four points (one goal, three assists) in 30 playoff games.
NHL.com independent correspondent Wes Crosby contributed to this report