The Tampa Bay Lightning's new ownership group vowed to be "staggeringly aggressive' in the NHL's free agent sweepstakes and they are trying to get a head start on that.
The Lightning have traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the exclusive negotiating rights to forwards Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts, who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
''We said earlier this week we would be aggressive in our pursuit of free agents in order to win and compete,'' Lightning owner Oren Koules said. ''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.''
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Ladies and gentlemen, the NHL's version of Mark Cuban has arrived. The Bolts promised to spend money and, boy, they weren't lying. By acquiring the rights to Malone and Roberts, the Bolts have exclusive negotiating rights with the two through Tuesday. If they opted to give away a 4th round pick for that privilige, you have to think they will sign both players before that deadline arrives.