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What's next for the Prospects Game?

by Adam Kimelman

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The puck won't drop on the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game until Saturday, but some talk already has turned to the future of the game.

USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations Jim Johannson said he envisions the Prospects Game as something the next generation of NHL hopefuls growing up in the United States can use as a goal.

"One of the things we hope this event does is become another marker in a young players' development, to say, 'I want to make the All-American Prospects Game,'" Johannson said. "The National Team Development Program was a key part of our growth and development and we have kids aspiring to make the National Team Development Program and we want them to aspire to make the Prospects Game."

As far as any changes to the set-up or timing of the game, Johannson said that will come in the days and weeks following Saturday's game here at First Niagara Center.

"I do like the timing of the event," he said. "I like the event in September as opposed to later in the season. It just makes a lot of sense for us to kick off the hockey season and celebrate the American player as the season is getting started. That part I do like."

Where next year's game will be played also will be decided down the road. However, if the Sabres have it their way, the game could be staying in Buffalo.

"We really appreciate the trust the USA Hockey has placed with the Buffalo Sabres, this region, this market, to launch their inaugural event," Sabres president Ted Black said. "This means a lot to us and we take that trust very seriously, and we've worked very, very hard to make this an event that they look back on that they're very, very proud of and one that we hope isn't the last stop on this tour. We'd like to have this back and … the best way to do that is to put on a first-class show."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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