Through the Devils’ official website, the Buffalo Sabres have announced this evening that they will be hosting their third annual Prospects Challenge exhibition round-robin tournament this September. The New Jersey Devils, the Boston Bruins, and the Sabres were involved in the first two years of this tournament in 2015 and 2016. This year, there will be a fourth team: the 2017 Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Since there is a fourth team, each team will play three games - once against each opponent. The tournament features two games per day, with the following schedule:
Friday, Sept. 8
Pittsburgh vs. Boston, 3:30 p.m.
Buffalo vs. New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 9
New Jersey vs. Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m.
Buffalo vs. Boston, 7 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 11
Boston vs. New Jersey, 12 p.m.
Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
The whole event will take place at HarborCenter in Buffalo. Tickets will be available starting on August 7 and they will be cheap at $10 each. If you’re in the area, it’s a good event as any to check out.
The appeal of this tournament is the same as the last two and pretty much the same as this week’s development camp. The Prospects Challenge will not likely decide any roster spots or management decisions. It’s nice to win but entirely not essential. The tourney is an opportunity to have the players get on the ice, give them some game situations, and provide the staff an idea of where they are at as a player. The latter may be a little more important for those younger players that may end up in New Jersey in 2017-18. Such as Nico Hischier, just to throw out an example. Or Blake Speers, for another example.
As this will take place from September 8 through September 11, this event will dovetail into the full training camp. Since most of the prospects will go back to their respective leagues or the minors, being in a three-game-in-three-day situation will give the prospects minutes to perform that they may not get in preseason games. I think it is a good tournament to be a part of and I am happy to see the Devils returning for a third year.