Negotiations could conclude tonight
If things keep going at the current pace, the Lightning could announce contracts for both Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts by later today. If that happens, give the Lightning credit for turning a tide that, for a while, seemed to be going against it.
First, Tampa Bay would never have made this trade with the Penguins if it did not think it could get something done before these players become unrestricted free agents on July 1. That said, the scuttlebutt went from high optimism after the trade was announced to perhaps some disappointment Saturday night when contracts were not quickly agreed to and Internet stories said Malone still was leaning toward free agency.
But seems owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie aren't taking no for an answer. They want these players badly, especialy Malone, who would drastically change the dynamic of how the Lightning approaches free agency. Get Malone and the focus can narrow. Lose Malone and, well, now the team has to scramble along with everyone else.
What are the deals? Sportsnet says $31-million for Malone over seven years. The deal for Roberts would be for up to $2-million including all kinds of performance bonuses.
Someone who should know, who asked not to be identified because he did not have authorization to speak, said the numbers are in the ballpark. Still sounds like there's a ways to go, and anything could happen, but it seems as if the Lightning might have things moving in the right direction.