Lightning gets rights to Ryan Malone, Roberts
The Lightning pulled off another pre-free agency trade Saturday, acquiring the negotiating rights to forwards Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts from the Penguins for the fourth-round pick in 2009 the Lightning acquired from Dallas in the Brad Richards deal. Compensation becomes a third-round pick if Tampa Bay signs Malone.
The deal is similar to the one the Lighting made to get the rights for Vinny Prospal. You have to believe Tampa Bay believes it can sign Malone and Roberts before the free agency period begins. It would be a nice addition to a team looking for top-six forwards, but a bit of a chance depending on how much the Lightning ends up paying.
Malone, 28, a 6-foot-4, 224-pounder, had 27 goals, 51 points in 77 games. He also play with the edge the Lightning desperately needs with 103 penalty minutes. A great person in the locker room, Malone camps out in front of the net on the power play and played the Stanley Cup final with a broken nose after taking a shot in the face. The question is, in a free agent year in which there is so little depth at forward, how much will Malone want. Speculation is in the $5-million range. He would play on the second line with Steve Stamkos.
Asked if in a year in which free agent depth at forward is so shallow, he is worried about overpaying, owner Oren Koules said, "The answer is no."
"He's prototypical of what all of us have been looking for in a hockey player," Koules added.
Roberts is a bit of surprise, given how new ownership the past few days and coach Barry Melrose, keeps saying how much younger the team is going to get. Roberts is 42 and had just three goals in 38 games last season while suffering from a broken left leg and high ankle sprain. He has 434 goals in his career. he also wants to be closer to his family in Canada and is expected to want to sign with the Maple Leafs or Senators. But he has been a god leader throughout his career, so perhaps Melrose and owner Oren Koules can pursuade him to take a chance on the Lightning. And, in fact, Roberts had to waive a no-trade clause, so there might actually be some interest. Would seem Roberts is seen as a third-line guy and a locker-room presence that would command respect from young and old players alike.
Roberts' agent Rick Curran said Roberts did, indeed, want to play closer to home. But he had such a blast playing last season with the Penguins' youngsters, such as Jordan Staal, he would love the chance to work with Steve Stamkos.
"Rob gets excited by stuff like that," Curran said. "He's pretty enthused. ... If we can get something done, he's not against the possibility. It could be fun."
"We've been talking so much about changing the culture of our dressing room to make sure it's 20 guys going in the same direction," Koules said. "There's nobody who epitomizes team and ruggedness and willing to win a hockey game than Gary Roberts. We want that voice and leadership in our room."