Can I apply for H1 next year? OPT ends Jan 2014.

I need to apply for H1 visa but my employer says that they can only sponsor my H1 visa next year. Can I apply for H1 visa next year even though my OPT ends in Jan 2014?

If not, how much time do I have this year to find an employer this year and get my H1 visa sponsored. I have heard of cases where companies have applied for H1 visa in July and it gets approved in Oct.

Thank You