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In The Crease

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

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

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.