It’s a big day for the the Buffalo Sabres and USA Hockey as they held a news conference at First Niagara Center on Monday to announce that Buffalo was selected to host the first ever USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.
The game will take place on September 29th.
“This concept is one we’ve been working on for the past couple of years,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey.
The game will bring 40 of the very best American players from juniors, high school, and college to Buffalo to participate in the event. All players will be draft-eligible in June of 2013.
“It’s a real showcase of some of the stars of the future,” said Ogrean.
Sabres President Ted Black expressed how “excited and honored” the Buffalo Sabres were to be the host of the inaugural event. “This first of its kind event is just another example of the depth of the Buffalo market,” he said. “It is a reason why Buffalo is hockey heaven.”
Black says that the event will be another opportunity to showcase the city.
Nathan Gerbe, who was in attendence for the news conference, feels that the even is a great opportunity for the future NHLer’s.
“I think it’s great for each kid to prove themselves. Come in here with the right frame of mind, work hard, and show what kind of skill you have,” he said.
The event will be just a single game according to Ogrean due to the availability of the players.
“It will probably be a fairly tight schedule,” he said. ”Simply from the standpoint that they [the players] are going to be leaving teams that they’re presumably practicing on.”
“It’s easier for us to get these players and for the leagues to cooperate entuisiastically if we are just going to borrow them for 48-72 hours,” he said.
When the question was brought up about determining the time of the event, Ogrean said the beginning of the fall was the easiest as far as getting the players for the game.
“The problem with doing it later in the season is you’re going to have some teams that are in playoffs [and] some that are not. It’s really really hard, if not impossible, if you have a team that’s in a playoff run to say “hey can we borrow that player?” It’s unfair at that point.”
As far as how the players are picked, Ogrean said that is still being figured out, but that there definitely will not be a tryout. “We’re still fine-tuning the very details of that, but it will be significantly a collaboration between at least USA Hockey operations and NHL scouts,” he said.
“I was fortunate enough to be part of the development team for two-and-a-half years,” said Gerbe. ”I’ve seen a lot of the really good U.S. young players come up.”
He continued, “Now everyone gets to come together and see what these kids are made of.”
Ogrean feels that including college and high school players won’t cause too much of a problem when it comes to the quality of play on the ice. He said because college freshman and high school seniors are around the same age that it shouldn’t cause an issue.
Gerbe said that he wished this event was around when he was getting ready for the NHL draft.
“Smaller kids like myself, I wanted to prove myself everywhere I went, and this would’ve been another step for me to go out there and try to prove I’m one of the top players,” said the 5’5″ Gerbe.
Before he finished up, Black said that the organization wasn’t done yet when it comes to bringing big hockey events to Buffalo including the All-Star Game, NHL Draft, and the World Junior Championships again.
Full audio of the event will be up later tonight.