After it was reported in The Nelson Daily that former Binghamton Senators defenceman Geoff Kinrade had inked deal to play with HC Plzen 1929 of the Czech Elite league, the Senators organization acted quickly to sign UFA Lee Sweatt to a two year, two-way contract and Tim Conboy to a one year, two-way contract.
Sweatt became an UFA after the Canucks decided not to qualify him with an offer and Conboy was an UFA after spending a few seasons within the Carolina and Buffalo organizations.
Last season Sweatt – a 5’8″, 194 lb defenceman – played in 41 games for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose totalling 5 goals and 9 assists. When the Canucks’ blueline was decimated with injuries late in the year, Sweatt was recalled for the NHL equivalent of a cup of coffee. In three games with Vancouver, he scored the game winning goal in his NHL debut and contributed an assist with a respectable plus/minus of +4.
Conversely, in 70 games with Portland last season, Conboy posted 12 assists and 230 PIMs.
I believe it was Bryan Murray who said recently that an organization needs 12 capable defencemen at their beck and call because in this day and age you can never have enough competent defencemen. Sweatt just fits another ‘role’ on the blueline in the inadvertent case of injury to one of Gonchar, Karlsson or Rundblad. With David Hale and Kinrade having left and with the uncertainties surrounding the returns of Derek Smith or Andre Benoit, these complimentary veteran signings were a necessity for the organization.
That being said, under normal circumstances, the signing of a fringe NHLer like a Sweatt or a Conboy would bring about a meh reaction but at least Sweatt comes from a fantastic hockey family. Who could possibly forget the 2010 offseason when his brother Bill, an unsigned second round draft pick from 2007 whose rights were held by the Chicago Blackhawks was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Kris Versteeg?
Instead of signing an entry-level contract (ELC) with the Leafs, Bill spurned their organization and became an unrestricted free agent on August 16th, 2010. Within three days, he had signed a 3-year entry-level contract to play with his brother within the Canucks organization. Talk about an admirable quality to have. Anyone who rebuffs the Leafs is in my good books.
Now if only Lee’s signing would necessitate a trade request from his younger brother…