Sabres fans are going to need some money and a lot of luck if they want to attend the NHL Draft.
The draft, which will be held June 24-25 in First Niagara Center, always figured to be a hot ticket in Buffalo. The demand is expected to be even higher after the team announced Thursday that only a limited number of tickets will be available.
About 4,000 tickets will be distributed to the Sabres’ 16,000 season-ticket holders, with fewer than 1,000 tickets available to the general public. Tickets to the first round June 24 will cost $30 for the 100 and 200 levels, and $20 for the 300 Level. Tickets are free for June 25, when the second through seventh rounds will be conducted.
Because of the limited availability, the Sabres have emailed an application process to their season-ticket holders. Each fan is allowed to request up to four tickets. If demand exceeds supply – a surefire situation – a random selection process will be used to distribute tickets.
Ticket requests must be received by next Friday. Winners will be notified by May 25. Tickets for the public will go on sale online June 1.
Recent NHL Drafts have featured full arenas for the first round and plenty of empty seats on the second day. Ticket availability is typically limited. Prospects and their families are seated in the lower bowl. Team personnel and media take up the floor. The large stage and draft board make seats in one end of the arena unusable.
Tickets are usually free, but the Sabres are charging in an attempt to reduce demand. When Pittsburgh hosted the draft in 2013, there were 1,500 free tickets available to the public for the first round and 3,500 free tickets available for the second day. The Penguins, who announced a capacity of 10,000, said the NHL claimed 3,000 seats and season-ticket holders requested the others.
For fans unable to get tickets this year, the Sabres will hold a draft party at Canalside. Buffalo will select eighth overall. Toronto holds the No. 1 pick, which makes it likely Maple Leafs fans will attempt to get tickets.
This is the third time the Sabres have hosted the NHL Draft. It was held in the arena in 1998 and in Memorial Auditorium in 1991.
The world championships begin Friday in Russia, including an opening match between archrivals the United States and Canada (9 a.m., NBCSN). All of the games featuring the U.S. team will be televised by NBCSN.
The Sabres have five players participating in the tournament: Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart (Canada), Jake McCabe and Hudson Fasching (USA), and Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia). The top two draft prospects – American Auston Matthews and Finland’s Patrik Laine – are also playing.
The U.S. team will also play Monday against Finland, Thursday against France, next Friday against Hungary, May 15 against Germany and May 17 against Slovakia. The quarterfinals begin May 19.