On Monday afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL announced that the NHL Combine has been moved from Toronto to the First Niagara Center and HARBORCENTER in Buffalo. At the press conference in First Niagara Center, NHL Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell confirmed the reports which swirled around the Combine moving to Buffalo.
“Ted [Black] and his group had been working on this for close to 24 months now, and they certainly had a head start,” Campbell said. “A few remained in the run in the end, but still Buffalo was heads and toes above everyone else in being able to host the Combine. So we’re pleased to bring our Combine here.”
Since 1999, the NHL Combine has been hosted at the International Centre convention hall in Toronto. The NHL set up its training facility in the convention hall, but with no on-ice tests for the players.
Now with the move to the First Niagara Center and the HARBORCENTER, the training facilities will already be in place for the NHL when the players arrive. The possibilities of expanding the Combine could come as well, with the on-ice facilities being available to the NHL.
“This is the place where events like the NHL Combine should be. It’s a ‘no-brainer,'” Sabres President Ted Black said. “Hosting the combine in a on-of-a-kind, three rink campus will allow the league the maximum flexibility to grow this property as it sees fit. The league, its teams, executives, the prospects will all benefit from the NHL Combine being located in a vibrant, downtown location.”
The 2015 NHL Draft is expected to be one of the deepest drafts in recent history. The players expected to come to Buffalo in May of 2015 could have a chance to be drafted by the Sabres in June. Ted Black knows the impact that the NHL Combine has on not only the city of Buffalo, but the Sabres franchise as well.
“Buffalo will be hosting the Combine at a very unique time in our team’s history,” Black said. “The Sabres have three first round picks, and two second round picks in the 2015 Draft. These yet-to-be drafted Buffalo Sabres will join a prospect pool that’s already recognized as being among the best in the NHL. Like the city, our franchise is heading in the right direction. In fact we’re no longer rebuilding. With the work that Tim Murray has been doing and the rest of our team, we’re just plain ‘building’ right now.”
In addition to the NHL Combine coming to Buffalo, the Sabres also announced that Kaleida Health will be the official medical provider of the NHL Combine.
The 2015 class has been headlined by the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. McDavid is already being considered as the next great talent to grace the NHL level. Eichel has been said to be just as good as McDavid, both with the potential to impact the fate of a franchise.
Other young talents such as Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Mathew Barzal, and Dylan Strome will be showcased in Buffalo during the NHL Combine. Each player is expected to be a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft.
The city of Buffalo has struck gold with winning the right to host the NHL Combine in 2015 and 2016. All 30 NHL teams and other NHL representatives will focus in on Buffalo as a center for hockey this coming May. It just continues to show that the city of Buffalo is striving to grow and make a comeback as a thriving city.
No dates have been set yet for the 2015 NHL Combine.