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It's official, Buffalo will be the host of the 2015 and 2016 NHL scouting combines

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HARBORcenter has brought a new event to the area, as the league's top prospects will be going through Buffalo before entering the league.

Dave Sandford

Minutes before the press conference the NHL beat the Sabres to the punch by announcing that Buffalo will be the host of the next two NHL scouting combines. The Associated Press had the report last night.

Here's the press release from the NHL:

The 2015 and 2016 NHL Combine will be held at First Niagara Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo, the NHL announced Monday.

The annual event, which had been held in Toronto since 1999, is overseen by NHL Central Scouting. It brings approximately 100 top prospects for the draft into one place for interviews with NHL teams as well as medical and physical testing. The 2014 Combine featured 119 prospects taking part in five days of interviews and medical exams held at the Westin Bristol Place hotel, followed by fitness testing held nearby at The International Centre.

"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."

Among those expected to take part in the 2015 combine are Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and center Jack Eichel, who will be a freshman at Boston University this season. They are expected to be the top two picks of the 2015 NHL Draft, which will be held at BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers.

McDavid (6-foot, 185 pounds) was fourth in the Ontario Hockey League last season with 99 points. He also had one goal and three assists in four games for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at age 16; he was the sixth 16-year-old to play for Canada at the WJC, joining Sidney Crosby, Eric Lindros, Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and Wayne Gretzky.

"When you look at Connor, the way he prepares himself off the ice, the way he prepares himself to play, he's a future pro," Canada national junior team coach Benoit Groulx said. "A future outstanding player."

Eichel (6-2, 195) had team-highs of 38 goals and 87 points in 53 games last season with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team, and he had one goal and four assists in five games for the United States at the 2014 WJC.

"He could probably jump into the NHL right now with his skating ability," United States national junior team coach Mark Osiecki said. "Physical-wise he has a ways to go, but he's an unbelievable talent."

HarborCenter will open in the fall adjacent to First Niagara Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres. It features two full-size NHL ice rinks, a Marriott hotel plus restaurant and retail outlets.

"We've had our eye on hosting the combine for quite some time and we are thrilled that it will be coming to Buffalo," Sabres president Ted Black said. "Terry and Kim Pegula [Sabres owners] 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."

At the beginning of the press conference Colin Campbell said that Buffalo was "heads and toes above everyone else in hosting the combine." Campbell also said in the Q&A that the league is not prepared to add on-ice drills to the combine, meaning the HARBORcenter rinks will likely not be used for the event.