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Hossa talks to heat up soon

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

As soon as Marian Hossa returns from vacation, he will get his first good look at the Penguins' long-term contract offer.

Hossa, a star right wing who played a pivotal role in helping the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup final with 26 points in 20 playoff games, is vacationing in the Bahamas. He is expected to return later this week.

At that point, the Penguins are expected to make their best pitch to keep him in Pittsburgh. Their objective is to sign him soon to a long-term contract.

If a deal with Hossa cannot be reached, the Penguins are open to the idea of trading his rights before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

General manager Ray Shero and Hossa's agent, Ritchie Winter, have discussed parameters of the Penguins' best offer - likely a seven-year deal worth near $50 million. The length of that deal remains a talking point between the parties, but the Penguins are not likely to offer more than a minimal increase on Hossa's current $7 million salary.

Shero is not commenting on offseason dealings.

Hossa is one of 12 players on the Penguins' Cup final roster who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Penguins hold exclusive negotiating rights with those players until that date. They have identified signing Hossa as their top offseason priority.

Locking up defenseman Brooks Orpik is No. 2 on the Penguins' list. Talks with Orpik's agent, Lewis Gross, are expected to commence later this week.

Orpik is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1. He is seeking a long-term deal and figures to command near $4 million in annual salary. Orpik would like to stay in Pittsburgh and likely would give the Penguins a so-called hometown discount in exchange for additional years on a new contract.

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