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Lightning agrees to deals with Malone, Roberts

In what had to be one of the most fast-paced and fluid days in Lightning history, the team on Sunday continued a radical makeover that shows no signs of slowing down or completion.

When it was over, the team had contract agreements with forwards Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts (with signings expected today, owner Len Barrie said), and traded late with the Wild for the negotiating rights to forward Brian Rolston.

"I told you it was going to be exciting," Barrie said. "Mine and (owner Oren Koules') ears are sore from the phone being in them so much."

And add this: OK Hockey, the eight-man group of which Barrie and Koules are primary investors, is expected today to finally close the $200-million deal to buy the team, the St. Pete Times Forum lease and 51/2 adjacent acres from Palace Sports & Entertainment.

Malone's contract is believed to be worth $31.5-million over seven years.

Roberts' base salary is believed to be $1.2-million with incentives that could raise his compensation to $2-million.

"We're very optimistic we're going to get something done," Barrie said. "Both players, I think, are excited to be part of the family."

Malone, 28, who had career highs of 27 goals, 51 points and 103 penalty minutes last season, is expected to play on a line with rookie center Steve Stamkos and be in front of the net on the power play.

Roberts, 42, who has 434 goals in a 20-year career, had just three in 38 games during a season shortened by a broken left leg and high ankle sprain. He is slated for the third line with Jeff Halpern, though he is coveted even more for his leadership.

Rolston, 35, has three consecutive 30-goal seasons and last season had 31 goals and 59 points.

He was acquired for a third-round pick in 2010 that could become a third- or fourth-round pick in 2009 depending on several conditions.

The Lightning has one day to sign Rolston before he becomes an unrestricted free agent Tuesday and can sign with any team.

"We're going to go hard at him," said Barrie, who added about Tampa Bay's makeover, "We're not done yet."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Lightning agrees to deals with Malone, Roberts 06/29/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 4, 2008 12:38pm]
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