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Opening of NHL free agency period could be shifted to June in new CBA, says report

Sean Leahy
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The NHL calendar for the month of June has typically gone: award Stanley Cup; hand out the trophies; announce that year's draft picks; and then everyone begins to look forward to the following season beginning July 1 with the opening of the free agency period.

That appears to be about to change once the NHL and the NHLPA finally nail down a new CBA. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides on Wednesday morning the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran has learned some details as far as what common ground has been made and where things stands on certain issues.

One item of change will be moving up the opening of free agency to June 15 or 24 hours after the Stanley Cup is awarded. According to McGran, the PA prefers whichever date is later and that topic was "one of 13 NHLPA issues (out of 17) that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has publicly acknowledged the league has "agreed" to."

(You'll recall Pierre LeBrun reported in September that the NHL proposed free agency begin July 10.)

Among the other reportedly agreed upon points is the elimination of re-entry waivers, cap space to be included in deals (Brian Burke's baby) and a neutral, third party to handle discipline appeals. We know contract restraints and the splitting of HRR and revenue sharing are still to be worked on and have been the main hurdles in these negotiations. And while nothing "agreed" upon is set in stone, it's hopeful that urgency is setting in and things are moving toward progress and not more PR posturing.

On Wednesday the NHL is expecting to finally see a full PA proposal to understand just exactly what Donald Fehr and players are seeking and how it would affect a new CBA as a whole.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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