Orpik turns down Penguins' offer

| Friday, June 27, 2008

Another attempt by the Penguins to reach terms with a key impending unrestricted free agent was rebuffed Thursday.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik declined a contract offer from the team. However, he has not committed to testing the free-agent market, agent Lewis Gross said.

"We did receive an offer from the Penguins, which we turned down," Gross said. "We're still talking, and we'll see where it goes."

Exact terms and financial details of the Penguins' offer to Orpik are not known. The offer is thought to have been a multi-year deal at about $3 million annually. Orpik earned slightly below $1.1 million last season.

General manager Ray Shero does not comment on offseason dealings with free agents.

Orpik previously has stated his desire to stay with the Penguins, who selected him 18th overall at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He has led the club in hits each of the past three seasons and shined in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs as a partner with defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Orpik is one of 12 players from the Penguins' Stanley Cup final roster eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday. He could command $4 million annually from potential suitors - a group that figures to include the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres.

Orpik's brother, Andrew, is a prospect with the Sabres, and told the Buffalo News on Tuesday that Buffalo "is a place (Brooks Orpik) would definitely want to come."

The Orpik brothers were raised in a Buffalo suburb.

The Rangers also are one of several teams that will pursue Pittsburgh-born left wing Ryan Malone. Unhappy with previous offers from the Penguins, Malone said June 17 he would enter free agency.

There have been no offers from the Penguins to Malone since at least that date. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks are believed to have interest in Malone, who may command an annual salary topping $5 million.

Malone earned $1.45 million last season, and the Penguins will not likely go much above $3 million annually with any offer.

Right wing Marian Hossa declined an offer from the Penguins this past Saturday at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. That offer is believed to be a multi-year deal at slightly more than $7 million annually.

Hossa, who earned $7 million last season, told Shero the Penguins are atop his list, but plans to entertain offers on July 1 nonetheless.

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