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Pittsburgh Penguins offer salary arbitration to goaltender Fleury

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PITTSBURGH - The Penguins made certain goalie Marc-Andre Fleury won't become a restricted free agent July 1, choosing to offer salary arbitration to one of the key players of their Stanley Cup playoff run.

The filing on Friday allows the Penguins to retain Fleury's rights to negotiate a multi-year contract in advance of arbitration hearings, which are scheduled from July 20 until Aug. 4. A hearing won't be held if a contract is worked out before then.

If Fleury had become a restricted free agent, an opposing club potentially could have offered the former No. 1 draft pick such a lucrative contract the Penguins might not have been able to match it because of salary-cap restrictions.

"By filing for salary arbitration, it gives us extra time to continue to negotiate a contract with Marc-Andre," general manager Ray Shero said. "As a result of the filing, Penguins fans are assured that Marc-Andre will be under contract to our club for next season. Marc-Andre has done a tremendous job for us. We remain committed to negotiating a contract with him in the near future."

The 23-year-old Fleury helped lead the Penguins to the 2008 Eastern Conference championship and a berth in the Stanley Cup final against Detroit.

"We understand that Pittsburgh filed for arbitration today with regard to Marc-Andre, which is their right under the CBA," said Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh. "We remain committed towards negotiating a long-term contract with Pittsburgh and will continue working with Penguins management towards that goal."

Fleury was 14-6 with a 1.97 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and three shutouts during the playoffs.

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With files from The Canadian Press.

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