Once again, it seems as though the National Hockey League and the NHLPA are close to reaching a deal that would give the league a new CBA and end the current work stoppage.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the sides have come to an agreement on some of the biggest issues and may only have a few stumbling blocks left to negotiate:
PA hotel is buzzing in anticipation. Down to minimal issues...but, still not done. And definition of "minimal" may differ.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 5, 2013
David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period tweeted that the players had accepted a cap of six years on contract length and a 10-year term on the new CBA:
Told NHLPA willing to accept 10-yr CBA & 6-yr contract term for free agents, but countered on 10% variance & cap number thefourthperiod.com/news/nhl130102…— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) January 2, 2013
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports that the NHL has also offered to give each team two compliance buyouts for the 2013-14 season that would not count against the salary cap:
Another detail emerging: NHL has upped its compliance buyout offer to 2 per team, up from 1 prior to 2013-14 season.
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 3, 2013
The final major piece of the new CBA that has been proposed is that each year in a given contract must amount to at least 60 percent of the highest paid season:
Wrote about it in my variance piece, but Elliotte has the number: "no year in contract can be lower than 60% of the highest-paid year"— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) January 4, 2013
All of these things end up working out in the favor of the Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Brian Burke.
Burke has always been opposed to handing out any contracts that are excessively long, or are front or back-loaded in terms of annual salary.
The new CBA would ban both of these contract, limiting deals to six years and ensuring that each year's salary is relatively similar to the rest of the contract.
As a result, the Leafs will no longer be priced out of the market for big-ticket free agents by other teams willing to sign players for eight or nine years and a boat load of cash, most of it coming in the early years.
As for the two compliance buyouts?
What a blessing that would be for the Maple Leafs.
Not only would the team be ridding itself of bad contracts like Matthew Lombardi and Tim Connolly this offseason, but they'd also have the option to buyout two additional contracts without having to take any kind of cap hit.
Thanks to Brian Burke's prudence, the Leafs were already primed to be fairly big players this offseason when it comes to free agency and the trade market.
Now armed with two compliance buyouts in his back pocket, Burke will have the opportunity to clear more cap and roster space for some up-and-coming young talent.
If an agreement on a new CBA is to be reached and the variance and contract length limitations are to be a part of the deal, along with compliance buyouts, the Toronto Maple Leafs would stand to benefit in a big way.
UPDATE: January 6, 2013 8:55 a.m. ET
According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, the NHL and NHLPA have come to terms on a new CBA after a marathon session of negotiations on Saturday night:
A tentative agreement has been reached between NHL and NHLPA - source— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 6, 2013
At this point, it is a matter of deciding whether the regular season will be 48 or 50 games long.
All of the aforementioned changes are expected in the new CBA, but stay with us at Bleacher Report as news continues to trickle in.