Ottawa adds Lee Sweatt and Tim Conboy, lose Geoff Kinrade and Cody Bass

Today the Ottawa Senators announced the signing of free agent Lee Sweatt to a two-year, two-way contract (http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=569033&cmpid=rss-News).  An undersized blueliner, the undrafted NCAA grad spent three years putting up big numbers in Europe before spending last season with the Manitoba Moose in the AHL (41-5-9-14).  There’s little chance that Sweatt puts on an Ottawa Senator uniform unless there are roster moves, but he helps fill the veteran hole on the blueline.  There’s a brief description of him here: www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/12360/ manitoba_moose201011_preview.  [Contract numbers are out: 650k/80k then 175k in the AHL.]

Ottawa added another AHL blueliner in Tim Conboy (http://senators.nhl.com/club/ news.htm?id=569034).  The 29-year old Conboy was originally a San Jose draft pick (7-217/02) who offers toughness (233pim’s last year), but not much else (scoring once in his last 139 games; 70-0-12-12 last year).  His signing makes the prospect of bringing back Derek Smith very slim.  [Contract numbers are out: 600k/150k.]

Speaking of veterans, 25-year old RFA Geoff Kinrade has apparently signed with HC Plzen of the Czech Elite League (http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona&U=551340dd39644ae695cca9fe0180e879&plckPersonaPage=BlogViewPost&plckUserId=551340dd39644ae695cca9fe0180e879&plckPostId=Blog%3a551340dd39644ae695cca9fe0180e879Post%3aef987103-a8a1-4b2a-83fa-b4d52251d39c&plckController=PersonaBlog&plckScript=personaScript&plckElementId=personaDest).  Kinrade was a free agent college signing who spent the last two years in Binghamton as a defensive stalwart (+39 over his two seasons; 78-6-19-25 last year).  Undoubtedly Kinrade has looked at the organisational depth chart and realised there was no room for him to move up.

Columbus has signed UFA Cody Bass (http://bluejackets.nhl.com/club/blog.htm?id=106) who spent four years with the Ottawa organisation.  Bass was a fourth round draft pick in 2005 who plays a gritty, two-way game.  Over the years he played 34 games in the NHL, but given his limited offensive talents (39 points in 171 AHL games) there’s little doubt he’ll spend the bulk of the year in the AHL for the Blue Jackets.

The only remaining RFA’s requiring a contract are Bobby Butler and Kaspars Daugavins.

Senators Player Profile: Zack Smith

This is the fifth in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Zack Smith, C/LW, Contract: 0.7/13 (RFA)
Drafted 3-79/08 (Murray), 6’2, Shoots L, YOB 1988, Maple Creek, Sask
2008-09 AHL 79-24-24-48 +2 132pim (10 fights)
2009-10 15-2-1-3 +1 14pim (2 fights) TOI 9:02 Hits 31 FO% 47.5, AHL 68-14-27-41
2010-11 55-4-5-9 -11 120pim (6 fights) TOI 12:36 Hits 129 FO% 53.9, AHL 22-7-5-12

Zack Smith was an overage player when he was selected in the 2008 NHL draft.  Captain of the Swift Current Broncos, Smith’s WHL production leapt from 31 to 70 points, adding to the grit and toughness he was already known for.  Smith had a great training camp and was the last player cut (http://www.silversevensens.com/2009/9/8/ 1020694/kitchener-rookie-tournament).  He joined a Binghamton team lead by Ilya Zubov and Mattias Karlsson, finishing fifth in team scoring.

Heading into the 2009-10 season, hopes were high for Smith (www.ottawasun.com/ sports/hockey/2009/09/20/11020901.html and video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/ console?id=38284), but he was beat out by Peter Regin for a roster spot and returned to Binghamton.  Smith put up identifical point-per-game results in the AHL, also seeing action in 15 NHL games (the second most for call-ups behind Brian Lee).

Last season, Smith made the Senators out of camp, but was returned to Binghamton in October and bounced back and forth until being permanently retained in late December.  While his Binghamton numbers were essentially the same as the previous two years, his season in Ottawa was much like the rest of the team’s–mixed.  When the regular season ended he was returned to Binghamton to help them in their run to the Calder Cup.  Smith struggled in the team’s first series against Manchester, but was strong thereafter and finished fourth in playoff scoring (23-8-12-20).  He was rewarded with a two-year, one-way deal.

There was speculation that Zack Smith would replace departed veteran Chris Kelly as the Senators third line center going into 2011-12.  To me, although Smith is considered solid defensively (despite being a minus most of his career), he’s not at all like Kelly in style of play.  A north-south forward, Smith’s offensive output in the NHL is likely to remain modest.  I see him as a physical fourth line player who can step up when required.  Reasonable expectations for next season would be 15 points with 7 goals.

Smith’s old Hockey Futures profile: www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/zack_smith
Smith’s fight with Nathan Horton: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/104590
Smith scoring his first goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKTr48O1UCY&playnext=1&list=PLA0A2D7E65222E517
Smith talking about his new contract (June 2nd): http://www.team1200.com/default.asp

Next up is Colin Greening.