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(AP)

Ryan Miller was a no-show at Buffalo Sabres practice Monday because the star goalie was still traveling from the Sochi Games.

Though Miller was scheduled to return later in the day and start Tuesday night when Buffalo hosts Carolina, his absence could be something the Sabres will have to get accustomed to with the NHL trade deadline approaching March 5.

A person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press that general manager Tim Murray continues to pursue offers for Miller with the intention of trading him by next week.

"Tim is testing the waters as hard as he can," the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Murray declined to speak to reporters Monday.

Miller isn't the only player with an uncertain future on a Sabres team that, at 15-34-8, remains in last place coming out of the NHL Olympic break.

Captain Steve Ott, veteran winger Matt Moulson and defenseman Henrik Tallinder are also in the final years of their contracts and could be used as trade bait by a team intent on building through youth.

Following practice, interim head coach Ted Nolan said it would be safe to assume the Sabres will be active in making trades.

"I think that's the key right there, not knowing," Nolan said. "We can't worry about who might be gone, who might be coming in. Today is the day we have to work with what we've got. And tomorrow, whatever we've got here, then we'll work with that, too."

Nolan also had a different take on his thoughts regarding Miller. After previously saying he favored the Sabres retaining Miller, Nolan said the decision was out of his hands.

"My thoughts don't really count right now," Nolan said. "Certainly, what Ryan Miller means to this team and this town, no question you'd like to keep him. But it's business. And we have to look forward to rebuilding this organization."

With a 14-22-3 record, Miller accounts for all but one of Buffalo's victories. His .923 save percentage ranks seventh among goalies with 30 or more starts.

The Sabres are in a tough spot as far as goaltending entering their game against the Hurricanes (26-22-9). Aside from Miller, backup Jhonas Enroth was also at the Olympics as a backup to Swedish starter Henrik Lundqvist.

Nolan made the decision to have Miller start against Carolina because the U.S. has been off since a 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze medal game Saturday. Sweden played Sunday when it lost the gold medal game to Canada.

The trade deadline has become a hot topic of discussion in the Sabres locker room.

"I think you guys in the media as a whole have been telling me I've been getting traded since the first day I got here," said Moulson, scheduled to return after missing four games with an upper-body injury.

"Sometimes it's a little stressful. But I think when you tell yourself to control what you can control, it kind of calms me down a bit. I'm going to go out there and play hard, and whatever happens, happens."

The game against Carolina was originally scheduled to be played Jan. 7, but postponed after a blizzard hit Buffalo.

The Hurricanes also return from the Olympic break out of the postseason picture but are within three points of a playoff spot. Sixteen of their final 25 games come on the road, including a five-game trip that begins Tuesday.

"I think the best way to look at it is to look at it as five one-game road trips and approach each game with what we can control and what we can do, and not worry about the long-term trends," defenseman Jay Harrison said. "You can only win one at a time."

Carolina is 8-4-4 in its last 16 games away from home, including a 5-3 victory at Buffalo on Jan. 23 against Enroth in the teams' lone matchup this season.

The Hurricanes are 8-1-2 in the last 11 meetings, including 4-0-1 in Buffalo.

Eric Staal tops Carolina with 45 points but had only one in his final five games before the break.

Tagged: Sabres, Hurricanes, Ryan Miller

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