PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — While Penguins management and Penguins players haggle over a new collective bargaining agreement that doesn’t look likely to come to fruition before a league-imposed Saturday night deadline, the team did go about the business of shoring up its blue line.

First-round draftees Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta, a pair of 18-year-old defensemen, signed entry-level contracts Wednesday. Each deal is good for three years and will take effect when they turn pro.

Pouliot (5’11”, 195 lbs.) was selected by the Pens with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 Entry Draft, which was acquired in the trade that sent Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes. He has played two-plus seasons with the Portalnd Winterhawks of the WHL alongside fellow Penguins prospect Joe Morrow, recording 16 goals, 90 points and a plus-28 rating in 145 regular-season games, along with 21 points in 43 playoff contests.

Maatta (6’2″, 206 lbs.) was taken with the 22nd overall pick in June. He earned OHL First-Team All-Rookie honors after tallying five goals, 32 points, and a plus-25 rating in 58 regular season games with the London Knights. He tied for the team lead and ranked sixth in the OHL with 23 playoff points in 19 games.

Meanwile, over in New York City, a contingent of Penguins that included captain Sidney Crosby and NHLPA representative Craig Adams were privy to meetings with commissioner Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors, which included team president David Morehouse.

Significant disagreements between the two sides linger, though progress was made when the NHL, as part of an adjusted counteroffer, agreed not to change the current definition of hockey-related revenue.

Still, a lockout seems likely, as Bettman said the NHL would pull this offer if a new deal wasn’t signed by 11:59 P.M. Saturday, and union leader Donald Fehr said the league had simply gone from asking for an “extraordinarily large” amount of money from the players to asking for a “very big” amount.

The league and the union fundamentally disagree upon how that revenue, which reached a record $3.3 billion last season, should be divided, and whether or not a new revenue sharing program should be implemented to help struggling franchises.

Adams told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Shelly Anderson he believes fruitful negotiations are still possible between now and Saturday. Both parties are expected to meet amongst themselves Thursday.

For more on this story, check out the latest report filed by Ira Podell of the Associated Press.

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