Could the annual NHL scouting combine be on its way out of Toronto?
The NHL is already interested in Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s $172-million downtown Buffalo hockey/entertainment complex, even though the facility is not completed yet.
Commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the league is considering the Sabres’ pitch to relocate the NHL’s annual pre-draft scouting combine from Toronto to Buffalo.
”It’s something that’s being discussed, and I know it’s something that Ted Black is vigorously pursuing,” Bettman said by phone, referring to the Sabres president. ”It’s a work in progress. We haven’t made any decisions. But we’re taking the expression of interest very seriously.”
Bettman made the revelation during an interview regarding Pegula and the facility he’s building. It’s called HarborCenter, and is currently under construction across the street from the Sabres arena.
Black confirmed the Sabres’ interest in hosting the combine, telling the AP it was “another example of the ways that we’re trying to promote Buffalo and HarborCenter as an international hockey destination.”
The Sabres have already booked a few key events — USA Hockey’ All-American Prospects Game will be played at HarborCenter for the next two seasons — and reports have surfaced about Buffalo’s interest in hosting the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships as well.
The NHL scouting combine has grown over the years, but has always been held in Toronto. Last year, 101 of the top North American and European prospects descended on the Toronto Convention Centre for a week’s worth of interviews, fitness and endurance tests.