TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman John-Michael Liles from the Colorado Avalanche on Friday just hours before the start of the NHL draft.

Toronto will send a second-round pick in the 2012 draft to the Avalanche. That selection had been acquired by the Maple Leafs in the trade that sent defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins in February.

The 30-year-old Liles, set to make $4.55 million in the 2011-12 season, can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He had six goals and a career-high 40 assists in 76 games with Colorado last season.

“I’m looking forward to just being a part of the (Leafs),” Liles said. “They’ve got a great young team. There’s a lot of talent on that roster.

“I’m excited to play with (defenseman) Dion Phaneuf, I think that making him captain was a great decision and I think overall that team is heading in a great direction.”

Liles, who has played his entire seven-year NHL career with the Avalanche, has led the club in scoring by a defenseman five consecutive seasons. In 36 playoff games during that span, he has four goals and seven assists.

Dave Nonis, the Maple Leafs’ senior vice president of hockey operations, said in Minnesota before the draft that he was close to making a trade for Liles at the deadline in February.

“It just didn’t come together,” Nonis said. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We just couldn’t find a match. But we were able to, in the last 24 hours, find a match that made sense for both teams.”

Nonis said he believes Liles can fill Kaberle’s role.

“Look at his numbers. Liles had an exceptional year last year offensively. He’s been a fairly consistent performer,” Nonis said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  1. Zenya Rene says:

    This seriously bums me out 😦

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