BUFFALO, N.Y. – The NHL’s annual pre-draft scouting combine is moving to Buffalo for the next two years, two people familiar with discussions told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
A formal announcement will be made at a news conference the Sabres have scheduled for Monday. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team and the NHL have not revealed the reason for holding the news conference.
NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell is scheduled to attend the announcement.
Campbell is in charge of overseeing the combine, which had previously been held outside of the Toronto.
The Sabres prompted the push to host the combine two years ago, when they began construction on a hockey/entertainment complex called HarborCenter.
The $172 million facility was privately funded by Sabres owner Terry Pegula. HarborCenter is scheduled to open this fall and will feature two rinks and a full-service hotel, and will be connected by a walkway to the team’s downtown arena.
Though the Sabres were regarded as the front-runners to land the combine, the NHL did offer its other teams an opportunity to submit bids in June. The Sabres had proposed to host the event for at least the next three years.
Sabres President Ted Black previously talked up the advantages of having the combine at HarborCenter.
The facility includes a large training centre, meeting rooms and offers the potential for teams to conduct both on- and off-ice testing under one roof.
He also envisioned opening the event to the public to increase the combine’s profile—much like the NFL’s annual combine does in Indianapolis.
The combine in Toronto was held inside a convention centre, which provided no on-ice testing and had little room for fans to attend.
Buffalo also is centrally located to a large number of NHL teams. And it’s also regarded as one of the United States’ strongest hockey markets.