Earlier today we told you about the 1pm press conference being held by the Buffalo Sabres and the National Hockey League. I initially took wikipedia at its word when someone updated the page to show that Buffalo was hosting the 2016 NHL Draft.
While hosting that draft is not out of the realm of possibility – today’s announcement was one to announce that the Buffalo Sabres were hosting the NHL’s Scouting Combine in both the 2015 and 2016 summers.
Of course Gary Bettman wanted to open it up to all 30 NHL cities, because heaven forbid we just get something in Buffalo.
The NHL Combine is getting more and more important – as teams are looking for younger players to step into major roles. With more teams in the United States – travel to the Combine becomes easier for all teams involved.
While not covered as much as the NFL Combine – that has a lot to do with most NHL prospects spend several years developing with their junior clubs or the AHL affiliate team.
With the combine in Buffalo in May or early June – it only makes sense to get the players in that are ready for the draft, and keep them here for the draft. Fiscally it just makes sense – both from a regional economical standpoint, and for a cost saving measures for many NHL teams.
Buffalo will host the combine downtown – with a huge hockey campus between First Niagara Center and the Harbor Center – and will join forces with Kaleida Health for almost on site medical attention for any of the prospects that might need it in their course of the combine. Buffalo houses the first three rink campus in NHL history.
Another feather in the cap for the Buffalo Sabres organization as they try to make Buffalo a destination in the hockey world from an international and league wide perspective.
The Buffalo Sabres will be able to host many players and teams in the three rink campus, with three NHL size hockey rinks, thirteen total locker rooms, an Academy of Hockey, a sports performance training facility, a Food and Sports restaurant, aptly named (716), a full service hotel, Tim Horton’s, a 750 space parking structure, and additional retail space.
From the sounds of things the Harbor Center is becoming more of a hot spot than Main Place Mall in Buffalo.
“We are honored that the NHL has once again looked to Buffalo to launch a new concept.” – Ted Black
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) August 18, 2014
What else can the Buffalo Sabres do to bring more of the NHL to Buffalo? The 2016 Draft is on the table – no doubt the Harbor Center will attract attention from the league if the Buffalo Sabres can perform well with the Combine – why not an All Star game?
If the Buffalo Bills end up with a new stadium downtown on the waterfront – why not another Winter Classic? While not a large venue like a Major League Baseball park – a stadium series game could be held at Coca-Cola Field.
With three rinks available – it is probable that the NHL would expand the Combine to include an on-ice portion – although most scouts don’t want prospects on the ice. Colin Campbell doesn’t anticipate an on-ice portion just yet. The NHL is also unsure if the Combine will be open to the public.
Although neither is out of the realm of possibility. If there is no on-ice portion – what would the appeal be for the public to watch players basically go through a physical and physical assessment. Teams take the interview process much more seriously at the combine, and no one outside of the organizations employees will be privy to that information.
Per Colin Campbell – there is a good chance at Buffalo continuing the hosting of the NHL Combine beyond the initial two years, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to turn the Combine into a travelling show – unless you are going to pair the Combine with the Draft.