The National Hockey League announced Monday that the league's annual scouting combine will be held in Buffalo in 2015 and 2016.
The event at First Niagara Center and the soon-to-be-completed HarborCenter will showcase some of the top young draft-eligible prospects in the world.
NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell officially made the announcement at a press conference Monday afternoon at the arena.
Campbell says a number of teams were interested in hosting the event, but Buffalo's bid was "head and toes above everyone else."
"It just seemed like a natural fit with what Terry and Kim Pegula are doing with this location. It's certainly opening up the eyes of people in the National Hockey League," Campbell said.
The combine allows the 30 NHL teams to test draft prospects both physically and mentally. Campbell says there's a "good chance" the event will remain in Buffalo beyond the announced two years.
"This is the place where events like the NHL combine should be. It's a no brainer. Hosting the combine in a one-of-the-kind three-rink campus will allow the league the maximum flexibility to grow this property as it sees fits. The league, its teams, executive and prospects will all benefit from the NHL combine being located in a vibrant, downtown location," said Sabres President Ted Black.
The $172 million HarborCenter, which opens this fall, will feature two NHL-size ice rinks, a sports training facility, and the newly-formed Academy of Hockey, along with a hotel, restaurants, and 750-space parking ramp.
Campbell said ultimately, Buffalo beat out Pittsburgh in hosting the combine. Black says the Sabres have also submitted a proposal to host the 2016 NHL Draft.
"Every week now, Buffalo is experiencing these kinds of great, major announcements of positive things happening in this community," said Mayor Byron Brown.
Event partner Kaleida Health will provide all medical services and testing for the event, both on-site and at its medical campuses