The deal allows the Lightning to talk exclusively to Malone and Roberts until the NHL free agency signing period begins Tuesday.
The Penguins didn't feel they could afford to re-sign either Malone, a Pittsburgh native who had 27 goals and 24 assists last season, or the 42-year-old Roberts, who made $2.5 million last season. Malone is believed to be seeking about $5 million per season.
Roberts was added late in the 2006-07 season to give the Penguins a more physical presence and a locker-room leader, but he missed more than half of last season with a broken left leg and a high ankle sprain.
Pittsburgh is focusing its attention on other key components of its Stanley Cup finalist team, including forward Marian Hossa -- who wants to test free agency -- and defenseman Brooks Orpik. The Penguins have 12 prospective unrestricted free agents.
The Penguins are expected to receive a fourth-round draft pick unless Malone signs with Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh would then receive a third-round pick. Tampa Bay acquired the fourth-round pick from Dallas in the Brad Richards trade.