Maple Leafs acquire defenseman John-Michael Liles from Avalanche for second rounder

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Boston Bruins fans might laugh at this notion, but many believed that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ power play suffered after the team traded Tomas Kaberle. Leafs GM Brian Burke targeted Colorado Avalanche defenseman John Michael-Liles to replace some of Kaberle’s offense during the trade deadline, but the Avs wouldn’t budge.

Burke got his man today, though. The Maple Leafs sent their 2012 second round pick to Colorado for Liles.

Liles’ occasional defensive lapses made him a scapegoat from time to time in Colorado, but people often overlooked his offensive talent. He rode a red-hot start to the 2010-11 season to a six-goal, 46-point campaign. That’s the second best total of his seven-year career (he scored 49 points in 05-06) and he never totaled less than 31 points in any season.

Liles has one season left on his contract, with a $4.2 million salary cap hit that is remarkably similar to Kaberle’s former mark of $4.25 million. That’s not to say that the two defensemen are carbon copies, though; Liles sports a more deadly shot and blazing speed while Kaberle gets most of his points because of deft passing and offensive instincts.

Either way, it seems like a great deal for Toronto and a seemingly inevitable one for the Avalanche. Colorado lost two offensive defensemen in the last few months as the Avs shipped Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis as part of the Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart deal. Hopefully it’s not time to kiss Colorado’s thrilling and wide-open system goodbye, but losing a trigger like Liles won’t help.

While the Maple Leafs might get the best of this trade, it does leave them with an awfully expensive blueline. Liles ($4.2 million), Dion Phaneuf ($6.5 million) and Mike Komisarek ($4.5 million) take up $15.2 million of cap space and Toronto needs to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Luke Schenn as well. That being said, if Liles’ sometimes-explosive offensive abilities give Toronto enough of a boost to make the playoffs, people won’t complain so much about their pricey defense.