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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
April 05, 1999
In July the most-sought-after unrestricted free agents will be forwards Theo Fleury of the Avalanche and Mark Recchi of the Flyers, but here's another name that should draw a lot of interest: Andrew Cassels, a 29-year-old Flames center. Cassels has become a solid two-way player with outstanding hockey sense. He's good on face-offs (52.1% success rate) and a fine penalty killer. Many hockey observers think of Cassels as a poor man's Ron Francis....
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April 05, 1999

In The Crease

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In July the most-sought-after unrestricted free agents will be forwards Theo Fleury of the Avalanche and Mark Recchi of the Flyers, but here's another name that should draw a lot of interest: Andrew Cassels, a 29-year-old Flames center. Cassels has become a solid two-way player with outstanding hockey sense. He's good on face-offs (52.1% success rate) and a fine penalty killer. Many hockey observers think of Cassels as a poor man's Ron Francis....

When the Red Wings acquired backup goal-tender Bill Ranford from the Lightning for a draft pick last week, they also made a shrewd financial move. If Detroit decides not to keep Ranford next season, the Lightning would be on the hook for the remainder of his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $3.1 million in 1999-2000....

Don't let anybody tell you a fight can't change the complexion of a game. On March 25, with the Blackhawks leading the Bruins 2-0 in the second period, Boston's Ken Belanger got into a battle with Chicago's Bob Probert and soundly whipped him. Minutes later the Bruins rallied for two quick goals to tie the match, which ended 3-3....

Don't be surprised if Coyotes center Robert Reichel, who was acquired from the Islanders two weeks ago, threatens to play in Europe next season unless he gets a contract extension that will pay him close to $4 million. Reichel's current deal, which expires after this season, is worth $1.7 million. Paul Kraus, Reichel's agent, is famous for playing hardball in negotiations....

The classiest move of the week was made by Capitals general manager George McPhee, who traded rugged captain Dale Hunter to the Avalanche. That will allow the 38-year-old Hunter to finish his career with the same organization he broke in with (the Avalanche was originally the Quebec Nordiques), and it also will give him a genuine chance to win his first Stanley Cup....

The Canucks' Adrian Aucoin, who at week's end led NHL defensemen in goals with 21, is having a career year. By constantly moving at the point, he opens up shooting lanes; thus he rarely gets his shots blocked. Also, there are few players who can one-time the puck as well as Aucoin.

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