Roberts, Penguins have mutual interest
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For weeks, Florida winger Gary Roberts told anyone who asked that there were only two teams that could tempt him to waive his no-trade clause.
And the Penguins weren't one of them.
Roberts, whose two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Panthers expires after this season, repeatedly said he was willing to be traded to Toronto or Ottawa because that would make it possible for him to be closer to his 17-year-old daughter, who attends school in Toronto.
But that didn't dissuade Penguins general manager Ray Shero from working out the terms of a trade for Roberts with the Panthers, and Roberts didn't automatically reject the idea of agreeing to join the Penguins, even though it doesn't make great geographical sense for him.
He began weighing its merits after Panthers GM Jacques Martin informed him of the potential deal yesterday and a member of the Roberts camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last evening that, "I don't see this being wrapped up until [today]."
That person acknowledged that playing in Pittsburgh "is a stretch" for someone whose stated preference is to work in Ontario, but said Roberts was willing to seriously consider joining the Penguins because "he's intrigued with the Pittsburgh situation."
It is not known if the Penguins and/or Panthers have set a deadline for Roberts to reach his decision, although both sides presumably would like to know well in advance of the 3 p.m. trade deadline so that they can move on to contingency plans if he rejects the trade.
Shero declined an interview request last evening, and what the Penguins have offered Florida for Roberts was not immediately known. The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, reported that the Penguins have agreed to part with defense prospect Noah Welch.
Roberts, 40, has 13 goals and 16 assists in 50 games this season. He did not accompany his teammates when they traveled to Washington yesterday afternoon.
Roberts once ranked among the NHL's premier power forwards and still plays with an edge. He thrives in battles along the boards and in the corners, and goes to the net with enthusiasm.
There is a physical price to be paid for his aggressive style -- Roberts missed 13 games in January and February because of a hip injury -- but his competitive approach can be contagious with teammates.
Roberts' intangibles, like experience and leadership, are at least as attractive as his talent, especially for a team such as the Penguins that relies heavily on younger players.
Roberts is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and apparently has no plans to retire. He has even said recently that he would like to get a one-year contract extension in return for waiving his no-trade clause, although that request is not believed to be a deal-killer.
Gary Roberts -- Panthers winger has 13 goals and 16 assists in 50 games this season.
First Published February 27, 2007 12:00 am