Around this time of year in the NHL season, its always helpful when somebody sets the market.
That, to some degree, is what happened yesterday when Atlanta peddled 39-year-old defenceman Mathieu Schneider as a rental player to Montreal for a package of draft picks. The Thrashers get a second round pick in 2009, actually Anaheim's pick, and a third rounder in 2010.
The Habs get Schneider and a conditional pick that could be as high as a third rounder and as low as a fifth rounder in June, depending how the Canadiens fare in the post-season.
So a mid-range second rounder - the Ducks are 18th overall as of today - for a puck-moving rearguard with a few miles left on his chassis who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
For a team like the Leafs that has a couple of defencemen to move, this is useful information. For GM Brian Burke, of course, there's a certain six-degrees-of-separation feel to the scenario, for it was he who traded Schneider from the Ducks to the Thrashers in the first place to clear up the cap space required to re-sign Teemu Selanne.
The Leafs, it's needless to say, have only one untouchable on their roster, and that's Luke Schenn. Otherwise, any player could be had, with different trade values assigned to them all.
The four players believed to be most in play, however, are rearguards Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle, and forwards Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore. Kubina and Kaberle both have no-trade clauses and time on their contracts beyond this season, while Antropov and Moore are both pending unrestricted free agents.
Interestingly, the approach on all four is likely to be very different.
For Kaberle, don't listen too closely to what Burke is saying publicly. He's trying to set a market. But the approach the Leafs will take is that they will decide what they must get in a deal - let's say a first round pick and a top prospect - and then only listen to offers that hit that standard
Otherwise, Kaberle stays, at least until next February when his value might be even higher.
With Kubina, you get the best deal you can knowing you can always trade him in the summer when his no-trade evaporates. San Jose wanted him last winter and his value hasn't dropped, but if Burke has to wait until the draft to move the big blueliner, he'll wait.
With Antropov, the Leafs will take the best offer. Antropov's going, and the value on his services will be set by the number of teams Burke can get interested in the tall Kazakh.
Finally, Moore is the trickiest scenario of all. Teams are going to want him, and he's having a very strong season.
But do the Leafs? They plucked him off the waiver wire last winter, and if they could get a second rounder or the kind of young player with size and toughness that Burke wants, chances are they make the move.
What's a bit unclear is whether the Leafs intend on signing him if he isn't moved before the deadline.
But the approach on all four players - Kaberle, Kubina, Antropov and Moore - is very different.
You have to believe that at the very least, two of the four are headed out of town.