Malone signs 7-year deal with Tampa

Ryan Malone has signed a $31.5-million US, seven-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Lightning also get exclusive right to negotiate with Brian Rolston from Minnesota

Ryan Malone has signed a $31.5-million US, seven-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 28-year-old will reportedly earn between $7 and $8 million US in each of the first two years of the contract.

Tampa traded a third-round pick in the 2009 draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins for exclusive negotiating rights with Malone and forward Gary Roberts on Saturday.

According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, Roberts has a one-year contract agreement in place with the Lightning worth $1.2 million that could rise to $2 million with bonuses.

Last week, the Lightning hired Greg Malone, Ryan's father, as their head pro scout.

In 77 games last year, Malone scored 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points.

Later Sunday, the Lightning obtained exclusive rights to negotiate with Minnesota Wild forward Brian Rolston in return for a pick in either the 2009 or 2010 draft if a deal is reached by the July 1 opening of free agent season.

Rolston had 31 goals and 59 points last season.

Minnesota had been hoping to retain the 35-year-old Rolston for a few more years after getting 96 goals and 106 assists from him over the last three years.

"As we said earlier this week and we are trying to prove after making our deal with Pittsburgh [Saturday], we will work feverishly to improve the Lightning team for the 2008-09 season," Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie said in a joint statement.

"We believe getting the Lightning a head start in the negotiating and signing process can help us secure the players we are targeting. Nothing is guaranteed here, but we hope to have a chance to get another quality player in a Lightning uniform sooner rather than later."