Top young hockey talent from across the nation will be playing in Buffalo the next two years. The Sabres and First Niagara Center will be hosting USA Hockey's All-American Prospects game in 2014 and 2015.
The 2014 game will be held in September and will feature U.S.-born players eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Players in the 2015 game will be eligible for the 2016 draft. The game will feature 40 players selected by USA Hockey and NHL central scouting.
The first Prospects Game was held in Buffalo in 2012. Citing a recent example, USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations Jim Johannson says the stars of the future will be on the ice.
"Seth Jones played in that inaugural game and Seth Jones is playing 20 minutes a night in the National Hockey League on a regular basis. The future is bright for those players but it's also short for how quickly they matriculate into the National Hockey League," Johannson said.
Jones, a defenseman with the Nashville Predators, was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The forty players who will compete in this September's game will be eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Players in the 2015 game will be eligible for the 2016 draft.
Sabres President Ted Black says many more events like the Prospects game are in the works.
"Our goal is we want the path to the NHL to go straight through Buffalo, whether you're an official or...a player. To make it to the NHL, you're going to make a stop in Buffalo," Black said.
The games will be included in the Sabres season ticket package at no cost.
The Sabres' HarborCenter facility is on track to open shortly after this year's game in September. Sabres executives say construction should be far enough along to provide the young players with a sneak peek of the facility.