The upside for Pavel Kubina's relatively strong play on the Leafs blueline this season is that he has been a positive influence on his young teammates.
The downside is that if Kubina continues to produce offensively, he is likely be one of the most sought-after commodities now that president and general manager Brian Burke's holiday trade freeze has expired.
"I can't worry about it, just focus on the game," Kubina said following practice at the Air Canada Centre yesterday. "You can't control stuff like that.
"It's tough. There's always a lot of rumours flying around. You just prepare for every game and every practice."
Kubina was one of the Leafs in focus around the trade deadline this past March and is widely believed to be a valuable piece of currency Burke can use as he begins to put his fingerprints on the current roster.
Given the no-trade contract he has in place until the end of this season, Kubina would have to give his blessing to any deal, but the veteran Czech knows he is likely to be pestered endlessly about his status.
"I don't want to talk about it right now," Kubina said politely when asked about the possibility of being moved before the deadline. "I want to just worry about this season."
Burke has said that he won't ask any players to waive their no-contract status. That said, Kubina's market value may never be higher than it is right now. Coming off a career-best 40-point season, he has seven goals and 11 assists in 36 games thus far in 2008-09.
Signed as a free agent in July 2006, Kubina has seen nothing but rebuilding teams during his time in Toronto, but believes the franchise is headed in the right direction.
"The team is making strides. It's fun for me to be around," Kubina said. "Sometimes I feel younger than I am around these guys. We have a good group around here. I think this team is going in the right direction for sure."