Attractive target

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

Mats Sundin aside, the most attractive item on the Maple Leafs shelf heading into the Feb. 26 trade deadline would have to be defenceman Tomas Kaberle.

True, there have been no shortage of rumours the past several weeks involving names such as Jason Blake, Pavel Kubina and Darcy Tucker. But there are questions regarding how much demand there might be for each, given that Blake will be 39 at the end of his contract, Kubina is overpriced with an annual salary of $5 million US, and that Tucker is struggling to put up points this season.

Kaberle, meanwhile, remains a relative bargain on the NHL market, earning $4.25 million over each of the next three seasons. Admittedly, he is not having his best year statistically. But it remains good enough to rank him among the NHL's top-scoring rearguards with seven goals and 23 points and garner him a selection to next weekend's all-star game in Atlanta.

Of course, there are a couple of key obstacles standing in the way of any potential Kaberle deal.

First off, whether it is Cliff Fletcher, John Ferguson, whomever, would the man making the personnel decisions for the Leafs at that time even want to deal the smooth-skating defenceman.

Secondly, Kaberle, like Sundin, has a no-trade clause in his contract. And while he would fetch a nice package of prospects and draft picks from a contending team, he is not eager to leave town.

'CAN'T GIVE UP'

"I signed here to play here," Kaberle said. "This is where I want to play hockey. You can't give up on the rest of the guys in this room. It's not like the season is over or anything. None of us have given up.

"We can't control any of that (trade) talk. I can only control what happens on the ice."

That being said, Kaberle was presented with the following hypothetical scenario: What would you do if you if management approached asking you to waive your no-trade clause because it had been overwhelmed by an offer from an opposing team?

"I'm not even thinking about that," he said. "If it happens, I'll think about it then.


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