TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't waiting until July 1 to try and sign new players.
The NHL team acquired wingers Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday for a conditional 2009 draft pick.
The Penguins will get 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 each set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Lightning have exclusive negotiating rights before then.
"We said earlier this week we would be aggressive in our pursuit of free agents in order to win and compete," new Lightning owner 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 is a Pittsburgh native that has spent his entire career with the Penguins. He had 51 points (27-24) in 77 games last season before adding six goals and 10 assists during the team's run to the Stanley Cup final.
The 27-year-old has 87 goals and 169 poins in 299 career NHL games.
Roberts was limited to just 38 games last season because of a broken leg. He had three goals and 12 assists before adding two goals and two assists in 11 playoff games.
The 20-year NHL veteran has appeared in 1,194 career games with Calgary, Carolina, Toronto, Florida and Pittsburgh. He has 434 career goals and 903 points. He also helped Calgary capture the '89 Stanley Cup.