Matt Cullen is a savvy pro. At 36, in his 16th season, he knows how it works.

The trade deadline is April 3. He is in the last year of a contract that would make him an unrestricted free agent if the Wild chooses not to re-sign him.

That means, without fail, Cullen will be the subject of trade rumors for the next month.

"When I signed here three years ago, I wanted to win a Cup here. I hope we can do that this year," Cullen said. "I love it here. My family's from here. It's a great organization. I love every part of it. It's easy to get ahead of yourself and start thinking about this stuff, and I know it will be on the forefront here before long as we get closer to the deadline.

"I don't know what's going to happen. I know what I hope for, though."

Cullen hopes that the Wild continues to push for the playoffs so he doesn't go anywhere. Players like Cullen, who won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, are hot commodities to playoff contenders this time of year.

He's a speedster, a leader, a versatile player and a contributor in every role. But that's what makes him so valuable to the Wild, too, which is why it may make no sense to trade Cullen, providing the Wild stays in the race.

Cullen also had 10 points in 13 games heading into Friday's game at Anaheim.

"When our game started to get going here a couple weeks ago, he ... started to help us get there," said coach Mike Yeo, who loves Cullen's work ethic, defensive-zone coverage, faceoff prowess [.556 win percentage] and strong play on the penalty kill.

"He's been a great example for us," Yeo said. "Every shift, he's just going out and doing the right thing."

Cullen had a slow start to the season, but since he switched back to his natural center position, he has felt more comfortable.