It’s gotten fairly deep into August, and the Ottawa Senators still haven’t completed a deal with Cody Ceci.
Based on comments from Pierre Dorion, there’s both good news and bad news about the ongoing negotiations.
The bad news is that he’s admitting that it has taken the two sides longer to come to an agreement than he previously anticipated it would.
I suppose he could’ve just insisted that this had always been a part of the plan, but his honesty is commendable. However, it validates the anxiety attached to the situation.
“I still have a lot of faith, but it’s taken longer than I anticipated,” said Dorion. He also subtly shifted blame towards Ceci’s agent, J.P. Barry, for the sluggish process these negotiations have gone through.
“I think J.P.’s trying to test me as a first time GM, even though I’ve done quite a bit of contracts before,” said Dorion.
It’d be a rocky start to his tenure if he and Ceci couldn’t agree to terms, and perhaps Barry realizes that powerful leverage.
However, Dorion hasn’t proven to be timid in his new role. Not only was he able to avoid arbitration with Mike Hoffman, but acquired Derick Brassard for former 6th overall pick Mika Zibanejad.
If Ceci’s people are counting on Dorion to succumb to public pressure to get a deal with Ceci done as quickly as possible, that might not be a viable strategy.
Dorion was willing to trade a player like Zibanejad pretty soon after getting the GM title. He can take the heat of stalled negotiations with Ceci.
The good news about this process is that it appears that it’s not the per season dollar figures that are impeding the talks, but the amount of years.
“We’ve talked multiple years and situations, whether it’s one up to six,” Dorion said. “But we’re keying on a certain number of years and we’ll see what happens from there.”
The Senators want a short term bridge deal, while Ceci wants something longer, specifically in the 5-6 year range.
It sounds like the set value of Ceci in a vacuum isn’t being debated, but how long the Senators want to be tied to that value.
I’m rooting for a long term deal for Ceci, largely based on the same reasons I was supportive of signing Hoffman long term. As players like them improve, their price tag only goes up. Why not sign them for less now than what they’d command at the end of a short term deal?
Ceci is a talented player who has shown improvement each season he has been in the league. What it comes down to is whether Ceci is more likely to improve, plateau, or regress in these next two seasons, which is the bridge deal the Senators want.
A short term deal would indicate that the Senators think Ceci will either plateau or regress. There’s no other reason to not sign him long term.
If they pay Ceci now as a young, mid 20 point producing defenseman, they could pay that same rate long into the future as Ceci hypothetically climbs into that 40-45 point range.
Of course, there’s front-loading or back-loading to consider in the contract, but the principle remains the same.
On average, if Ceci gets somewhere around $4 million per season during the length of the contract, it’s a bargain as long as most of those seasons are improvements over his current production level.
Each side is playing hardball right now, but there’s still a comfortable amount of time before the regular season starts.
Neither side wants to be without the other by the time the season begins, and that unofficial deadline lingering will likely be a successful catalyst in getting these two parties in agreement.