(photo: NHL.com)

The National Hockey League and the Buffalo Sabres have announced that Buffalo will play host to the top 120 draft-eligible players invited to the annual NHL Combine in 2015 and 2016. First Niagara Center and HARBORCENTER, together making up a 3-rink hockey complex downtown near the Erie Canal Harbor, will be the perfect place for the prospective draftees to showcase their talents.

The NHL Combine lasts a week, and gives all 30 NHL teams an opportunity to scout future talent 3 weeks before selecting prospects at the NHL Draft. The players will be interviewed by NHL club management, scouts and athletic training staff, and will also be assessed mentally and physically through fitness and medical exams.

The 2015 NHL Combine is set to feature Jack Eichel of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and fellow highly-touted North American prospect, Connor McDavid. They will be eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft hosted by the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., June 26-27.

“The NHL Combine is an essential event for all of our Member Clubs in advance of the Draft, which continues to grow in importance,” said Colin Campbell, senior executive vice president of NHL Hockey Operations. “The League has pushed to improve the Combine each year and the state-of-the-art facilities in Buffalo will allow us to further enhance the quality of the event for our teams, prospects and media.”

“We’ve had our eye on hosting the Combine for quite some time and we are thrilled that it will be coming to Buffalo,” said Ted Black, president of the Sabres. “Terry and Kim Pegula have made it a goal of this organization to create an environment here in Buffalo that is ideal for hosting highly visible events like the Combine and we are certainly ready to meet that challenge. All of our resources will be in place to ensure a successful event for the league and we’re proud to have the next wave of NHL players pass through Buffalo.”

First Niagara Center and HARBORCENTER combine to form a 3-rink hockey campus – the only one of its kind in the NHL – which also includes off-ice training facilities, a restaurant, and a hotel, making the Sabres’ home an excellent setting for the NHL Scouting Combine. Partnering with the NHL and the Sabres is Kaleida Health, the largest healthcare provider in Western New York, to provide all medical services and testing for the Combine.

Born in the “non-traditional” hockey market of South Florida, Elizabeth (Beth) quickly grew to love the sport at a very young age after her Buffalo-bred family introduced her to the Sabres. High school friends who didn’t care about hockey couldn't understand her withdrawals during the 2004-05 lockout, but college would bring a hockey loving boyfriend (and best friend) to whom she could finally relate. A South Florida native himself, and an avid Florida Panthers fan, he got her into the home team. Together they work for their college hockey club (the FAU Owls), broadcasting games. Beth is a huge USA Hockey fan and hopes to see them win Olympic gold in her lifetime. Between her 2 favorite NHL teams, her college squad, and USA Hockey, it's hard to tell which team she loves most, but she is passionate about them all.

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