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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
January 31, 2000
Aki Berg, a hard-nosed 22-year-old, has emerged as a solid defenseman in his fourth NHL season, but don't be surprised if the Kings deal him. Last season Berg played in Finland because he was a restricted free agent and couldn't come to contract terms with L.A. The Panthers and the Senators have expressed interest in obtaining him. Ottawa is in dire need of a physical defenseman because opposition forwards have been crashing the crease with regularity....
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January 31, 2000

In The Crease

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Aki Berg, a hard-nosed 22-year-old, has emerged as a solid defenseman in his fourth NHL season, but don't be surprised if the Kings deal him. Last season Berg played in Finland because he was a restricted free agent and couldn't come to contract terms with L.A. The Panthers and the Senators have expressed interest in obtaining him. Ottawa is in dire need of a physical defenseman because opposition forwards have been crashing the crease with regularity....

Look for teams to add toughness down the stretch to help shield their better players. The Capitals recently picked up enforcer Jim McKenzie, who was waived by the Mighty Ducks, and they've also been playing star center Adam Oates with goliath Chris Simon....

Though the Red Wings pulled their offer of a two-year contract extension to 39-year-old center Igor Larionov, there won't be a shortage of suitors if Larionov becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. One interested party may be the Canucks, against whom Larionov put on a show last week. Larionov once played for Vancouver, and he has a solid relationship with general manager Brian Burke....

Speaking of the Canucks, after goaltender Kevin Weekes was traded to the Islanders last month, a story in The Vancouver Sun reported that management felt Weekes had been faking or milking a minor injury to his right knee early in the season. However, upon arriving in New York, Weekes had an MRI on the knee that revealed two tears that will require surgery after the season....

The Sabres should have more respect for Pat LaFontaine, who spent six seasons as an elite player with Buffalo before retiring in 1998. The Sabres have already given his number 16 to journeyman forward Chris Taylor.

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