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Golden Knights trade Colin Miller to Sabres for draft picks

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As long expected, Vegas moves it’s big-shot defenseman to clear more space and gets a solid return.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights’ ongoing quest to get under the salary cap continues, as the club has traded defenseman Colin Miller to the Buffalo Sabres for two draft picks.

TSA was the first to report the move. Bob McKenzie confirmed Vegas will receive a second-round pick in 2021 and a fifth-round pick in 2022.

The 2021 pick is the one Buffalo acquired in its trade last summer with now-Conn Smythe and Selke winner Ryan O’Reilly from the St. Louis Blues.

Miller has been long-linked to a possible trade since the deadline back in February. He missed a month of the season due to an upper-body injury sustained in mid-December against the Blue Jackets, then was a healthy scratch in stints from his return to the lineup on Jan. 19.

The defenseman with the heavy shot missed 17 games this season after playing the entire 82 the year prior. Miller finished with 29 points (three goals, 26 assists) in the first year of a four-year, $15.5 million (average annual value $3.875 million) contract he signed with Vegas on July 7.

Vegas selected Miller from the Boston Bruins in the 2017 expansion draft.

This past season was an opportunity for Miller to show he was a top-four defenseman. With top blueliner Nate Schmidt serving a 20-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy, Miller was on the top pairing with Brayden McNabb. He only registered six points in those 20 games and fell out of the rotation later on in favor of a pairing of Nick Holden and Jon Merrill. Miller was a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the first-round series against the San Jose Sharks.

Per CapFriendly, the Golden Knights now sit at $899,999 over the salary cap of $81.5 million. If you factor in David Clarkson’s contract once he goes on long-term IR, Vegas can carry an opening-day roster cap of $86.75 million. Vegas still has to tend to restricted free agents Malcolm Subban and Nikita Gusev, but Miller’s deal is likely to make those future transactions much easier, as well as an impending deal with fourth-line winger Tomas Nosek.

Miller becomes the second player traded from Vegas in three days. Forward Erik Haula was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday in exchange for prospect Nicolas Roy and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2021.

One player that may not be coming back to Vegas is Ryan Carpenter. The Athletic is reporting the Chicago Blackhawks are interested in the depth forward, as are the Avalanche and Bruins.

Miller gets a fresh start with a young team still trying to find its identity, while the Golden Knights continue to accomplish tasks they need to do before July 1. As for if there’s another deal in the cards, that’s not out of the realm of possibility.