USA Hockey today announced that the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., will host the first ever All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 29. The game will feature 40 of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
According to Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, the game will feature draft-eligible players from all levels including junior, college, prep school and high schools.
The diverse backgrounds of the players are what makes this event really unique and special. Getting the best American players under one roof early in the season could help some players from any level get on the radars of NHL scouts and general managers.
Hosting the event in Buffalo at the home of the Sabres also offers a unique angle to this game. Having it in an NHL building, in a major American hockey hub makes it quite interesting. Perhaps there would be more of a desire for television coverage, as the NHL season will have not begun yet. It seems like a no-brainer for the NHL Network to hop on the event as a pre-season appetizer.
In addition to providing a great showcase for the players, the All-American game will also give great exposure to the various levels of hockey in the country and put on display the wide array of development paths available to an American player.
When I first heard that this was going to happen, I wondered why no one had thought of it sooner. The All-American Prospects Game is another prospects game, yes, but it offers something new and different that might be attractive to even the average NHL fan.
The game should be a great first look at the top American players ahead of the draft and before everyone’s seasons get into full swing. Should be a win-win for everyone involved.