The first major trade domino has fallen.
Ryan Miller and Steve Ott have been traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2016.
The Sabres scratched both Miller and team captain Ott ahead of Friday night's home game against the San Jose Sharks. Neither player was on the ice for the team's warm-up at the First Niagara Center.
"The thought of getting the grit and determination of a player like Steve Ott and obviously Ryan Miller's resume speaks for itself, we think this gives us a better opportunity for success this year," said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong.
The Sabres currently sit last in the NHL with a 17-34-8 record and are believed to be poised to move several veteran pieces in an effort to add future assets.
The conditional third-round pick in 2016 would become a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft if Miller re-signs with the Blues or St. Louis makes it to the 2014 Western Conference Final. However, should that pick become a first-rounder, the Blues would then acquire the Minnesota Wild's second-round pick (which Buffalo acquired as part of the return for Jason Pominville) as well as the Sabres' own 2014 third-rounder. If the Blues don't reach the Western Conference Final but sign Miller after the 2014 NHL Draft has taken place, then Buffalo would receive a 2016 second-round pick.
Buffalo also retained a portion of Miller's salary in the trade, according to a report on the team's official web site.
Both Miller and Ott will join the Blues in Phoenix and are expected to be available for Sunday's game against the Coyotes.
The 33-year-old Miller has posted a 15-22-3 record with the Sabres this season, with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
Originally selected in the fifth round (138th overall) by the Sabres at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Miller has spent his entire 11-year NHL career in Buffalo, posting a 284-186-1-56-28 record with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
Miller is in the final year of a five-year deal worth an average annual value of $6.25 million that he signed with the Sabres prior to the 2009-10 season.
"I got to know some of the (Blues) with (USA Hockey)," Miller said during a news conference in Buffalo after the deal was announced. "They have a very strong competitive spirit, so I look forward to joining that group."
Ott, 31, has appeared in 59 games with the Sabres this season, scoring nine goals and 11 assists.
He is in the final year of a four-year, $11.8 million contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Ott was selected in the first round (25th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars and played nine seasons in Dallas before being traded to Buffalo in 2012.
In 673 career games with the Sabres and Stars, Ott has scored 103 goals and 161 assists while racking up 1,318 penalty minutes.
"I'm really excited to have this opportunity with St. Louis," said Ott. "My dream and my biggest goal is to have a chance at a Stanley Cup."
Halak, 28, has appeared in 40 games with the Blues this season recording a 24-9-4 record, with a 2.23 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
He is currently in the final year of a four-year, $15 million contract he signed prior to the 2010-11 season and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Halak was selected in the ninth round (271st overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He has appeared in 260 career games with the Blues and Canadiens, posting a 139-81-26-29 record with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.
The Slovakian has represented his country on numerous occasions including the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he backstopped his team to a quarter-final upset over Sweden en route to a fourth-place finish. He played again at the recent Sochi Games where his team finished 11th.
Speaking to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Halak said. "(The trade) is still fresh. You're getting a good goalie. Good luck in the playoffs."
In 58 games with the Blues this season, Stewart has scored 15 goals and 11 assists.
Currently in the first of a two-year deal he signed prior to this season, Stewart's contract carries an average annual value of $4.15 million.
Originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round (18th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Stewart has appeared in 377 career games with the Blues and Avalanche, scoring 115 goals and 113 assists.
He was acquired by the Blues along with Kevin Shattenkirk and a second-round draft pick in the blockbuster deal that sent Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first round pick to Colorado in February, 2011.
Carrier, a 19-year-old prospect, was selected in the second round (57th overall) by the Blues at the 2013 NHL Draft.
The left winger has scored 17 goals and 39 assists in 59 combined games with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Drummondville Voltigeurs so far this season in the QMJHL.
The Sabres now possess 10 combined picks in the first two rounds of the 2014 and 2015 Drafts.
In addition to their own first- and second-round picks in 2014 they possess the Blues' first-rounder, the Los Angeles Kings' second-round pick (acquired in excahnge for Robyn Regehr) and the aforementioned Minnesota second-rounder. In addition to their own 2015 picks they also own the Kings' second round pick (also obtained in the Regehr trade) and the New York Islanders' second-rounder (acquired in the trade that sent Thomas Venk to Long Island).
They also possess a conditional first from the New York Islanders - in either 2014 or 2015, to be determined by the Islanders - as part of the return for Vanek.