The announcement was made today at First Niagara Center that the arena and Harbor Center will host the event in 2015 and 2016. The combine had previously been held at a convention center outside of Toronto.
Sabres President Ted Black and Harbor Center President John Koelmel went to the Combine in Toronto to "scout" the event in 2013.
"Ted (Black) and I started discussing Buffalo when they announced Harbor Center, and said this would be perfect say for a Center of Excellence for officiating, and then we got in to other areas," said senior executive vice president of NHL Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. Campbell called Buffalo and its new facilities a "natural fit" for the event.
Even though the move seems to be an effort to match the NFL's success in making their pre-Draft Combine a large fan event, as of now there are no plans to put the prospects on the ice, and he's unsure about what kind of fan interaction there will be. "At this point in time, we're not going to include the skating element like you see in the NFL Combine where they have the 40-yard dash on the field," Campbell said, noting that about 70% of scouting departments didn't care to see on-ice action at the combine.
"As far as opening it up to the public, we haven't in the past. We're not sure where we're going to go as far as fan participation. There is a possibility of going down that road."
Campbell also noted that there was a likelihood Buffalo could host the event beyond 2016, but also noted that Pittsburgh pushed hard to host the Combine too.
The event, held in the spring, is a chance for representatives – typically scouts, coaches and general managers – from NHL clubs to observe the prospects undergo physical and mental tests. Teams conduct individual interviews with prospects before they undergo various fitness and skill tests to hopefully improve their value in the Draft.