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WITH DRAFT LOOMING, PROSPECTS COME TO TOWN FOR COMBINE

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

There wasn't much debate about whether or not Buffalo was a good fit to host the NHL Scouting Combine following the city's first run as host in 2015. Gone were the days of housing the event in a hotel in Toronto, replaced by Buffalo's neighboring facilities in HARBORCENTER and First Niagara Center.

So, with that in mind, let's do it again.

Beginning on Monday, scouts and management from around the League have been meeting in 20-minute sessions with the top prospects eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft on the PremCom Suite Level at First Niagara Center.

Those interviews will roll into Friday, and then the focus shifts toward the testing aspect of the Combine. The prospects will take the first of two endurance bike tests on Friday and then do the remainder of their testing in groups at HARBORCENTER on Saturday.

Players will undergo a total of 12 tests in all, ranging from measurements of body composition and wing span to physical tests such as grip strength, jumping tests, bench press at 75-80 percent body weight and agility.

Medical examinations for all players will be held on Wednesday.

While the combine serves mainly as a tool for teams to get to know prospects before committing to them, last year saw a pair of future Sabres fare particularly well. Jack Eichel and Brendan Guhle, Buffalo's top two picks in the 2015 Draft, each finished in the top 10 among all prospects in seven tests.

This year, there will be 114 prospects in town for the Combine, some of whom will return to Buffalo later this month to hear their name called at the Draft itself. The 2016 NHL Draft will be held at First Niagara Center on June 24 and 25, marking Buffalo's third time hosting the event and the first time since 1998.

Heading up the list are two players coming off impressive performances at the IIHF World Championship: forwards Auston Matthews (Zurich, Swiss) and Patrik Laine (Tappara, Finland). Matthews and Laine are ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively among European-based skaters by NHL Central Scouting Services and both were selected to World Cup rosters on Friday.

FULL PROSPECT LIST

Other notable players attending this year's combine include Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat, Finland), ranked No. 3 among European Skaters, as well as the top North American-based skaters in forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton, QMHJL), Matthew Tkachuk (London, OHL) and Alexander Nylander (Mississauga, OHL) and defensemen Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia, OHL), Olli Juolevi (London, OHL) and Charles McAvoy (Boston University, NCAA).

The Sabres are slated to pick eighth overall in this year's Draft and currently hold 12 selections.

Stay tuned to Sabres.com for coverage throughout the Combine including player interviews, test results and more.

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