BUFFALO - You’ll have to excuse Sam Dickinson for arriving a bit late to the NHL Combine.

After all, his season with the London Knights only came to an end a few days ago.

Dickinson, the No. 7-ranked North American skater for this year’s NHL Draft, was a stalwart on the London blueline, putting up 70 points (18G, 52A) during the regular season before helping lead the team to an OHL championship.

A pretty cool experience - and exclamation point - on this, his first season of NHL Draft eligibility.

“Just to play in London alone is so awesome, and to be able to get that OHL championship this year, with such a special group that we had, was truly something I’ll remember forever,” the Toronto native said Wednesday between meetings. “For me personally, it was a huge accomplishment to be able to get that done, in a year like this that was so important.

“I couldn’t be more happy for our whole team.”

There’s a Flames connection for Dickinson in London, too.

Mark Hunter, the Knights’ owner, vice-president and GM, was on Calgary’s 1989 Stanley Cup team - and amid his duties at the Memorial Cup last week, took time to FaceTime the ’89 squad as it gathered to recreate that iconic Cup-winning photo last week at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Hunter, along with brother Dale, has made London an OHL institution, a place that Dickinson is happy to call his junior hockey home.

"A big thing for me was being more confident"

“The fans there are unbelievable,” he said. “They have a team that’s competing every year, that just kind of speaks to the Hunters and everything that they’ve done.”

Dickinson is one of several blueliners firmly planted in the top tier of prospects by NHL Central Scouting - four of the top seven North American skaters, and four of the top eight International skaters are blueliners.

Dickinson, who turns 18 years of age on Friday, stands out amongst the crowd.

Boasting a 6-foot-3 frame, and lethal shot, it’s easy to see why he’s a much-talked about prospect ahead of the draft.

And speaking of that shot, he says one of his goals this year was to improve on it, and become more of a scoring threat from the point.

“I think a big thing for me was just to kind of be more confident, obviously it was something I wanted to work on going into this year, (getting) my offensive numbers up and just being better offensively,” he said. “I think with what I did this year, I can’t complain about any of it at all.”

But Dickinson admits he’s also worked a lot on his defensive game this season, which the staggering +56 figure on his stat line in 2023-24 helps to show.

All part of a package that helped him land on the OHL’s Second All-Star Team, on a pairing with - coincidentally - Flames prospect Hunter Brzustewicz.

With a confident stride, and a firm handshake, Dickinson sets upon his way to another meeting - all part of the Combine experience, with the NHL Draft just a handful of weeks away.

He’ll have family and friends in the stands at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

But here, in Buffalo, he’s a man on a mission.

And he’s enjoying every moment, despite being fashionably late.

“I’m really excited to be here and get all this stuff underway,” said Dickinson. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since the beginning of the year.

“For it to finally be here, it’s really exciting.”