According to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times, Mike Liut, the agent for former Penguins forward said a deal between his client and the Tampa Bay Lightning "is going to get done. ... I think we'll finish it today."
The report estimates the deal will be worth $31 million over seven years. That would be just under $4.5 million per season. If you ask us, that's way too much for a player who has had a career-high of just 51 points and did so while riding shotgun with a Hart Trophy finalist in Evgeni Malkin. When Malkin's play slipped in the Stanley Cup final, Malone's production did too. He only had one assist in the six games against Detroit.
Obviously Malone does more than just score goals. He kills penalties and is more than willing to drop the gloves. But let's not act like this is a jack of all trades type of player at the level of Henrik Zetterberg or Jarome Iginla.
He's had one good season. Judging by this earlier post by Cristodero, it sounds like Oren Koules and Len Barrie, the Lightning's new owners, have fallen in love with Malone and are willing to overpay for a player who has been inconsistent the majority of his career. This deal has "Dustin Penner" written all over it.
Additionally, Malone is 28. Assuming the speculation of a seven-year deal is correct, he'll be 35 by the time it expires. Will he still be the same physcial player he was this past season by the end of it? Power forwards aren't exactly renown for having a long shelf life. Just ask Todd Bertuzzi.
The scary thing about this deal is wondering what a franchise player like Marian Hossa is worth now.
Also according to the report, an incentive-laden deal appears to be in the works for Gary Roberts for $2 million.
Should Malone sign with Tampa Bay, the Penguins would get third-round pick in the 2009 draft instead of a fourth-rounder after dealing the negotiating rights of Malone and Roberts to the Lightning Saturday.
Update: The agent for Gary Roberts says he is very optimistic a deal could get done with the Lightning.
Update two: Both deals appear to be "as good as done."
Update three: They're apparently determined to corner the market on 50-point scorers in Tampa Bay. The Lightning just acquired the negotiating rights of forward Brian Rolston from the Minnesota Wild for a conditional draft pick. Rolston is a lot more consistent than Malone however. He has had three consecutive 30-goal seasons which is a fairly impressive accomplishment considering he played for the defensive-minded Wild during that time.