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Defenseman Matt Hunwick not expected to play for Sabres this season

Defenseman Matt Hunwick is not expected to play for the Buffalo Sabres this season because of a neck condition, the team announced Wednesday.

Hunwick, 34, was limited to only 14 games with the Sabres last season after suffering a neck injury during the previous offseason. He will likely be placed on long-term injured reserve, which could provide the team with as much as $2.25 million in salary cap space.

The Sabres acquired Hunwick and winger Conor Sheary from Pittsburgh in June 2018 in exchange for a conditional 2019 fourth-round draft pick. While Sheary scored 14 goals during his first season in Buffalo, Hunwick was unable to join the team until December and played a two-game conditioning assignment with Rochester. He made his Sabres debut during a 4-2 win in Boston on Dec. 16, playing what ended up being a season-high 18:24.

However, Hunwick spent much of the season as a healthy scratch. He played 11 of 17 games from Feb. 10 until March 16, recording two assists with a minus-5 rating while averaging 15:40 of ice time during that span. He missed the rest of the season because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.

With Hunwick possibly out for the season, the Sabres are expected to have five left-shot defensemen competing for a roster spot in training camp: Rasmus Dahlin, Jake McCabe, Marco Scandella, John Gilmour and Lawrence Pilut, who is expected to miss the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery this offseason.

Hunwick has played 535 regular-season games during his 12-year NHL career. He was a seventh-round pick of the Boston Bruins in 2004 and spent four years with the team from 2007-11.

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