Kubina's stock rising

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

BUFFALO -- As Pavel Kubina's point total continues to escalate, so, perhaps, does his off-season trade value.

Such a notion at one time very well might have been scoffed at, given the hefty $5 million US per season price tag the lumbering blue liner carries with him through the 2009-10 campaign.

But San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson showed that yes, there is a potential market out there for Kubina when he attempted to land him prior to the trade deadline, a swap-in-the-making that was scuttled when the Czech defenceman refused to waive his no-trade clause.

Now, heading down the stretch, Kubina is, for the most part, playing his best hockey since signing a four-year, $20-million contract with the Leafs in the summer of 2006.

Entering yesterday's game against the Buffalo Sabres, Kubina had scored four times in his previous four outings. Three of those were game winners, two versus the Philadelphia Flyers, one against the New York Islanders.

He continued to be productive last night, assisting on Darcy Tucker's power play goal at 12:15 of the first period.

All this offensive pizzazz could work in the Leafs' favour. A caveat in Kubina's contract makes his no-trade clause moot from June 20-Aug. 15 in the event the Leafs do not reach the post-season, an outcome that has yet to be determined.

If the Leafs miss the playoffs, they have a prime window to deal Kubina if they so choose. And maybe, just maybe, his recent play makes him an easier commodity to move.

"As a player, you can't control what happens in those circumstances," Kubina said yesterday, acknowledging the opportunity the Leafs might have to swap him.

"But I hope I stay here. This is where I want to be. I don't want to go anywhere. I love it here. For me it's an honour to play with the Leafs."

As for his recent scoring spree, Kubina credits it to some good health and some fresh legs.

"My baby (daughter) is too big for me to pick up any more, so I guess that is giving me some extra energy," Kubina said with a laugh.

"I feel really good right now."

Whether they opt to keep him or trade him, that is good news for Leaf management.


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