Important days for the Buffalo Sabres have been few and far between during the 2013-14 season, but the most crucial of them all will come on March 5.
The Sabres have been looking to sell for the better half of the last two seasons, but this year's trade deadline will be the first landmark opportunity for the new regime of Pat Lafontaine and Tim Murray to shift the direction of the franchise.
Ryan Miller is the biggest piece of the puzzle, and Murray is looking to leverage the goaltender for a treasure trove of assets that should help expedite the rebuilding of the team. Of course, Miller isn't the lone piece in play, as Matt Moulson and captain Steve Ott could and should also be on the move. In reality, the Sabres are at a point where anything could happen, as contending clubs look to pick apart the scraps of the league's worst team team to bolster their own lineup for a playoff run.
It's not a question of if the Sabres will be active, but just how active they will be.
Miller on the move
Miller's time with the Sabres appears all but over. His performance this season behind a train wreck of a team has bolstered his value as a top-tier goaltender, which should help drum up interest, and with Miller set to enter unrestricted free agency this summer, the time seems right for a mutual split.
Miller is the caliber of player who could fetch a healthy return, however, but the market might not be in Buffalo's favor. The St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals have been rumored as interested teams, but demand isn't very high for starting goaltending, which could hurt the Sabres' return.
Head coach Ted Nolan is on record saying that he would be in favor of keeping Miller, but that feeling may not be mutual. The threat of him walking at the end of the season has to heavily weigh in the Sabres' strategy and creates a complex problem for Murray.
Moulson moved again
It's a safe bet to assume that Matt Moulson will not be a member of the Sabres at 3:01 p.m. on March 5.
Moulson was acquired in the Thomas Vanek trade back in October along with a 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick from the New York Islanders. The assumption at the time was that Moulson, a pending unrestricted free agent, would be traded once again in a similar deal involving draft pick compensation. With several contending teams looking for forward help (most notably the Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins), the Sabres should have several options to move Moulson.
The only question remaining is whether Moulson is fully healed from an upper-body injury sustained before the Olympic break.
Other pieces in play?
With the exception of Cody Hodgson, the Sabres would probably be willing to move anybody on the roster. Captain Steve Ott has emerged in several rumors and could be a depth addition for a contending team. Ott has a serviceable cap hit at $2.95 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
In total, the Sabres have nine pending UFAs on the roster, including Miller, Moulson, Ott, Henrik Tallinder and Alexander Sulzer.