Meetings this week in Sochi, Russia, advanced the process on possible NHL participation in next February's Olympics.
"We had two productive days of meetings in Sochi," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com via email from the Moscow airport. "Saw and visited all the hockey venues, the Olympic Village and other key Olympics-related infrastructure. We met with the Sochi Organizing Committee, the IIHF and a number of IOC representatives. There is more work to be done, but it was an important trip for us to make."
The meetings come after the NHL, International Olympic Committee, International Ice Hockey Federation and NHL Players' Association met last month in New York.
The NHLPA was not present at this week's meetings in Sochi, having already done its own site visit previously. The NHLPA would need to be a part of any agreement for Olympic participation.
IIHF president Rene Fasel reiterated that he was hopeful for an agreement by May.
"This was a very good couple days of site visits of the Olympic venues and infrastructure, followed by some good discussions with the NHL representatives," he said in a statement on Wednesday. "I remain optimistic about the NHL's participation in Sochi and I hope that we can come to an agreement, [at the] latest beginning of May, which would be good for the teams as to which players to select for the World Championships.
"It must be said that many challenges remain and that this is more than just an IIHF-NHL issue. We have also the IOC, the NHLPA, the Sochi organizers, the National Olympic Committees and the national ice hockey associations. There lots of coordinating to be done.''
The NHL has participated with its players in the Olympics in every Games since 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
The Sochi Games open on Feb. 7, 2014. Russia is spending more than $50 billion on venues and infrastructure projects to prepare for its first Winter Games.
Also taking part in meetings this week in Sochi are leaders of the seven winter sports federations on the Olympic program.Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.