33-Year-Old Defenseman – Toronto Maple Leafs
John-Michael Liles Contract Information:
Agreed to a four-year extension with the Maple Leafs in January of 2012.
Liles was recalled from AHL Toronto on Friday, Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press reports.
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John-Michael Liles: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Liles is a smooth-skating, puck-moving defender, but he never really got his game back on track after suffering a mid-season concussion last year. He's had a full summer to build on his recovery so expect a fresh start this season. However, Jake Gardiner's emergence will relegate Liles to the second power-play unit and that will reduce his fantasy value. We still like him for at least 35 points, but there are a lot of guys like him out there. Don't overrate him and don't expect many goals.
Liles is a talented but smallish (5-10, 185) defender who is great on the outlet and the PP, and should approach career numbers if paired with a steady, mobile -- and larger -- partner. He got the bum rap in Colorado more than once and we just donít think he deserved it. He tried to do too much on an inexperienced team and that overexposed some of his weaknesses. He needs to be aggressive on both sides of the puck and is improving his gap control. But heís a creative maestro walking the line on the PP and thatís a distinct upgrade on Tomas Kaberle. Toronto fans are going to love him; fantasy owners will, too.
Liles spent much of last year in coach Joe Saccoís doghouse, and following a sub-par first three months of the season was frequently a healthy scratch. By mid-season, Lilesí name was frequently the subject of trade rumors, but the Avs could not find any takers for his hefty contract of $4 million a season, so his services were ultimately retained. In the end, Liles wound up posting a disappointing 31 points on the season, including a mere six goals. Looking ahead, Liles should remain one of the Avsí two primary puck-moving, power-play defensemen this season along with Kyle Quincey. However, with the continued emergence of Kyle Cumiskey, and young guns like Kevin Shattenkirk and Cameron Gaunce waiting in the wings, Liles will be under pressure to raise his level of play, and his scoring totals.
Liles once again enters the upcoming season as the Avs' #1 offensive d-man, however he will only be as good as the supporting cast assembled around him. With veterans such as Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth no longer in the fold, the Avs are in rebuilding mode and may struggle on offense. This should cap Liles' production in the 40-45 point range this season, so don't overvalue him on draft day. Another word of warning: Liles' plus-minus rating went from +2 to a career-worst -19 last season, so keep this in mind if your league tracks plus-minus as a stat category. It's hard to see him returning to the plus-side of the ledger anytime soon.
Liles took a step back last season, as his 32 points in 81 games was 12 short of his previous year's total. However, several of Liles' teammates missed significant chunks of action last season (e.g., Sakic, Smyth and Stastny), so that likely played a big part. Assuming he has a healthy supporting cast this season, Liles should return to form. He should be back around the 40-point plateau this season, with an outside shot at 50. He remains a highly skilled, puck-rushing defenseman who will see time on the Avs' top PP unit, so the points will come. He could come cheap on draft day, so keep an eye on him.
Liles will probably drop to the No. 2 defensive pairing, but he remains one of the better goal scoring defensemen in the league. He has 93 points in the last two seasons.
Liles followed up his stellar rookie season with 14 goals and 35 assists in 2005-06. The 49 points were good enough for 14th in the league among defensemen. The departure of Rob Blake leaves a leadership vacuum on the blue line and Liles is the logical choice to step up.
Liles led all rookie defensemen in scoring in the last NHL season with 34 points in 79 games and should be a 35+ point scorer for Colorado this year.