USA Hockey has announced the creation of an All-American Prospects Game, and Buffalo will host the inaugural event Sept. 29 in First Niagara Center. Forty of the top U.S.-born, draft-eligible players will show their skills to fans and scouts as a lead-up to the 2013 NHL draft.
"What we will bring to Buffalo are 40 of the very, very top American players regardless of where they might be playing in the fall of 2012," Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said today in the arena atrium. "These will all be players who will be eligible and who will be drafted the following June of 2013. It is a real showcase for stars of the future, some of whom may very well end up wearing Sabres uniforms."
The one-day event will lure 17- to 19-year-old players from college, junior hockey and high school. USA Hockey and NHL Central Scouting will lead the selection committee and announce the participants in late June or early July. Ticket information will be released next month.
"It’s really about an investment in a relationship that we have with USA Hockey and with hockey in general," Sabres President Ted Black said. "It’s not about selling an extra hot dog or an extra ticket. It’s about providing these types of opportunities to the city and to elite hockey players. It’s really about promoting hockey and promoting Buffalo as a hockey destination."
USA Hockey has been discussing holding an annual prospects game for a few years. The Canadian Hockey League hosts a similar event, but USA Hockey needed to figure out the logistics of bringing in players from various levels of hockey rather than just one junior league.
"We draw our players as we approach draft-eligible age from a much wider circle of leagues, so it’s a little bit more complicated to assemble," Ogrean said. "We’re doing this to showcase our best and brightest players that have come out of the U.S. hockey system and are now playing in any number of different leagues and who are going to go on and play in the National Hockey League."
Black, meanwhile, had nothing to add to the Sabres' failure to make the playoffs or the team's decision to keep General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.
"I’d like to defer any kind of Sabres talk because I really don’t want to dilute this day for USA Hockey," Black said.