Updates at bottom

With just over two weeks before what many are calling the “drop dead date,” Gary Bettman and the NHL owners have extended an olive branch to Donald Fehr and the NHLPA.

According to various sources on Twitter, including Pierre LeBrun, Darren Dreger, and Elliotte Friedman, the NHL has proposed a new offer that includes the flexibility the NHLPA has asked for, while also keeping the $300 million make-whole element.

While the entire offer has not been made public — and, in fact, NHL Executive VP Bill Daly has refused to even confirm an offer exists — some elements are known to be included:

  • 10-year CBA with an opt-out after eight years
  • $300 make-whole provision
  • Free agent maximum contract length of six years, internal free agent maximum contract length of seven years
  • 1 player amnesty buy-out prior to the start of the 2012-13 season (should one be salvaged)
  • $60 million salary cap
  • No changes to arbitration rights, free agency status, and entry level contracts
  • Free agency begins July 10, not July 1

It is expected that additional points of interest will become available throughout the day as members of the media speak with players and owners.

What isn’t known is whether the NHLPA will respond to this offer. While an NHLPA conference call has been scheduled, nothing can or should be taken for granted, as very little has gone as expected throughout this lockout.

One thing seems certain, though: this is the NHL’s last offer, and one that really seems to be a strong compromise in the players’ direction. Should the NHLPA refuse to negotiate off of this offer, the likelihood of a season would seem to be slim-to-none.

On the other hand, should the players view this as a good faith effort, we could be primed for NHL action by the middle of January at the latest.

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Updates

12:09 p.m. Various reports are indicating that the NHLPA already is in the process of preparing a counter offer to the NHL’s proposal. Whether this counter offer builds off of the NHL’s proposal or is an entirely different proposal is yet to be seen.

12:09 p.m. James Mirtle on Facebook while linking his article: “This is the beginning of the end of the lockout, folks.”

12:09 p.m. Darren Dreger via Twitter: “Hard to imagine the NHL’s latest proposal doesn’t result in potentially season-saving meetings. Players wanted flexibility and they got it.”

12:09 p.m. Pierre LeBrun via Twitter: “My sense is that there’s still some back and forth that needs to happen in this thing…” and: “In short, NHLPA/players will still want to change some things in this offer. But I still view it as important step towards a possible deal”