NHL owners will gather in New York on Wednesday to vote on the tentative labor agreement reached with the union last weekend.
If a majority approves, as expected, the NHL will move one step closer toward the official end of the lockout.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a memorandum of understanding of the deal hadn't been completed, so the union has yet to schedule a vote for its more than 700 members. A majority of players also must approve the deal for hockey to return to the ice.
If there are no snags, ratification could be finished by Saturday and training camps can open Sunday. A 48-game regular season would then be expected to begin on Jan. 19.
The Florida Panthers have tentatively scheduled their first game back on the ice for that day.