To hear Luke Schenn tell it, Tomas Kaberle is in some ways the heart and soul of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a well-liked veteran who brings as much value off the ice as on it.

And while Schenn defers to management when it comes to personnel decisions, it's clear the young defenceman would like to see his mentor and close friend stay in Toronto.

"I've got nothing but great things to say about him," Schenn said. "He's a guy you can look up to, as far as how he carries himself. He's well respected by everyone. No one knows what the future holds for him, but I feel very lucky to have been on the same team as him."

In his 12th season with the Leafs, Kaberle is expected to be on his way out of town in the near future, either via trade or come July 1 when his contract expires.

There has been no discussion on an extension and, as has been the case the past two seasons, trade talk is picking up around the veteran defenceman in anticipation of the NHL's Feb. 28 trade deadline.

Because Kaberle has a no-trade clause, it will be up to him if he is ultimately dealt. His agent, Rick Curran, has denied they will offer Leafs general manager Brian Burke a list of teams he will accept a deal to.

Even if there's a change on that front, it's believed Kaberle would only allow Burke to approach two or three Eastern Conference teams, making a deal difficult to pull off.

Just how much he would be missed on the Leafs roster, meanwhile, isn't exactly known.