Lightning acquire rights to Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts
The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't waiting until July 1 to go after new players.
The Lightning acquired the rights to wingers Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday for a conditional pick in the 2009 NHL draft.
The Penguins will receive a third-round pick if Tampa signs Malone and a fourth-round selection (which the Lightning acquired from Dallas) if they don't.
Malone and Roberts are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Lightning have exclusive negotiating rights with both players before then.
Tampa Bay missed the playoffs last season, prompting new owner Oren Koules to publicly claim he would make major changes to the team ahead of next season.
"We said earlier this week we would be aggressive in our pursuit of free agents in order to win and compete," Koules said in a statement. "This trade today doesn't guarantee anything, but we believe it gives us a leg up in our attempt to sign these two impact players."
Malone, a 27-year-old Pittsburgh native, played in 77 games with the Penguins last season, scoring 27 goals and tallying 51 points.
Roberts, a 20-year NHL veteran, played in 38 games with Pittsburgh last season. The three-time NHL all-star scored three goals and 15 points.
"Gary said he wasn't returning. He was going to move on, which was right for both sides. This deal gives both players before July 1 to get in discussions with Tampa Bay. That'd be a great story for them if it worked out," Penguins GM Ray Shero said.