NHLPA makes its proposal to owners

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NHLPA makes its proposal to owners

Let the real negotiations begin.

On Tuesday in Toronto, the NHLPA and its union head, Donald Fehr presented their long-awaited proposal to the league for a new collective bargaining agreement. Multiple reports suggest that it includes increased revenue sharing among NHL teams, but keeps the current hard salary cap in place (with a few exceptions) and even offers a reduced percentage of hockey-related revenue to the players for the first three years. The union would have the option in the fourth year to revert back to the current CBA.

The increased revenue sharing was no surprise, given that Fehr helped architect the current structure utilized by Major League Baseball when he was the head of its players union. Its also likely to set off a significant debate within the NHL ownership group itself, as big money-makers like the New York Rangers, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Philadelphia will likely resist handing over a greater portion of their profits to the likes of Phoenix, Columbus, Florida and other small market clubs that have trouble generating enough revenue on their own to compensate for player costs.

A large contingent of players, including stars like Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin, were on hand to make the presentation to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league representatives. No Sharks were known to be at the meeting.

The NHLPAs proposal was thought by some to be better than what the NHL expected, including former player and current TSN hockey analyst Aaron Ward. Still, the union rejected some other significant aspects of the leagues original proposal in July, including increasing the number of years required to become an unrestricted free agent, and capping contract terms.

After hearing the proposal, Bettman said that the league will take the rest of the day to more thoroughly review it and meetings would continue on Wednesday.

The current CBA expires on September 15. If there is no agreement in place by then, the league will lock out the players. It would be the third lockout since Bettman became commissioner in 1993, including the lost season of 2004-05.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Thornton, Marleau now permitted to speak with other teams

Their futures with the Sharks more uncertain than ever, pending unrestricted free agents Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are now free to take calls from other teams to gauge their potential interest.

Nothing can be signed with a new team before July 1, and there is a ban on discussing terms of any potential deal. Teams have already reached out to Marleau, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, while Thornton is also reportedly receiving interest around the league.

While they could still return to the Sharks, it’s new territory for both, as neither Thornton nor Marleau has ever tested the unrestricted free agent waters. Most recently, they agreed to three-year contract extensions with the Sharks on the same day – Jan. 24, 2014 – in what was the final year of their current deals.

Whether they return to the Sharks could depend on the length of the deal. If other teams are willing to offer multiple-year deals to Thornton and Marleau, it makes their return to the Sharks less likely – particularly in Marleau’s case. Earlier in the offseason, NBC Sports California confirmed that Thornton was seeking a three-year deal, while Marleau preferred a deal of at least three years.

General manager Doug Wilson’s top priority this offseason is to re-sign goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long term extensions. Those contracts would likely cost the team a combined $12-14 million, and would begin in the 2018-19 season.

There is an added risk to any team that signs a player over the age of 35, as it would be on the hook for the entire salary cap hit regardless of whether that player is active (unless that player is on long-term injured reserve). 

Thornton turns 38 on Sunday, while Marleau turns 38 on Sep. 15.