Amid speculation that the Penguins were about to send Ryan Malone to a Western Conference team for a player and/or draft pick, Malone's agent signaled last night that his client was not interested in such a deal and that Malone would rather wait to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that the Penguins were going to trade Malone's right to Columbus, Vancouver or Minnesota. But Malone's agent, Mike Liut, suggested that a team trading for his client might end up empty-handed if Malone chooses not to sign.
"Ryan doesn't want to go down that road," Liut said.
"His preference would be to go ahead and go until July 1 [and become an unrestricted free agent]."
If Malone waits until July 1, he would be on the open market and teams could drive up his asking price through bidding.
Speculation about trading potential unrestricted free agents has been popular since Philadelphia acquired the rights to Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen from Nashville last year, but Liut said that was a unique circumstance that was aided by the fact that Nashville and Philadelphia had more time to make a deal because they did not have deep playoff runs. The players apparently preferred to leave because of Nashville's financial troubles at that time.
Liut said Malone is trying not to pay too much attention to the speculation regarding his impending free agency.
"He's looking at better than a 50-50 chance right now that he'll be changing teams," Liut said. "We'll see what happens in the next week or 10 days. His position has not changed. When July 1 comes around, he'll wind up someplace. We can't say where yet. He's trying not to overanalyze it. He's just waiting to see what happens. It's all a part of the beast now."
Malone is one of a dozen Penguins who can become unrestricted free agents July 1. The Penguins are believed to be concentrating their efforts on signing Marian Hossa to a long-term contract.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero declined comment regarding all free agency issues last night.
Ray Fittipaldo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1230.