Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa are the two biggest names among the 12 players on the Pittsburgh Penguins' roster set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
The Penguins have already announced that signing Marian Hossa is among their top priorities this offseason. Now, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, talks with Hossa are starting to heat up.
Hossa is currently on vacation, outside of Pittsburgh. However, when he returns, he will get his first good look at the long-term contract offer waiting for him in the Steel City.
The Trib-Review also reports that if a deal cannot be reached with the star right-winger before the July 1 deadline, they are open to trading his rights before he becomes an UFA.
The proposed deal is said to be worth $50 million over a seven year time frame. The length of the deal is negotiable among the two involved parties, but the Penguins are not likely to offer Hossa more than a minimal increase on his current $7 million salary.
While the Hossa deal seems promising, a deal with Pittsburgh's hometown boy, Ryan Malone, seems less likely.
Malone's agent has signaled that his client is not interested in a deal that would send his rights to the Columbus, Minnesota, Vancouver, or any other possible suitor for a player and/or draft pick.
This announcement indicates that Malone will wait until July 1, when he will become an unrestricted free agent, before talking to any teams.
The Penguins were hoping that Malone could net them an early-round draft pick in the upcoming draft, but Bugsy's decision to wait it out leaves the Penguins without a pick until the fourth round.
The Penguins have also stated that they are not willing to pay Malone much beyond the $3 million per-year mark. Malone and his agent feel that they can secure $1-2 million over that mark in the free agent market.
The stories are starting to unravel, but nothing is set in stone.
Hossa and Malone may both start next season suiting up right where they left off at the conclusion of this one. Then again, neither player may find the Penguins' offers to be suitable to their needs, and both may move on to other teams.
Whatever happens will happen, but at least we are getting closer to seeing the final picture.