As expected, rumors surround Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles.
Hockeybuzz.com has reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs made an offer on Liles earlier this week, but that offer was rejected by the Colorado front office. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater has mentioned that Liles did not participate in the Avalanche morning skate this morning — a strange development after Liles was benched in Wednesday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
While the rumors continue to surround Liles to Toronto, it’s worth taking a closer look at what package the Leafs could have even offered Colorado. Considering the Avalanche are hovering at the salary floor, they would have to take on an equivalent salary to Liles’ $4.2 million owed this season.
So what kind of package could Toronto even offer? Forward Joffrey Lupul is a good salary match, but his production has not matched his contract and the Avalanche front office has been very reluctant to add players with over two years left on a contract.
Nikolai Kulemin is an option as part of a larger package. Colorado has a need at winger, and Kulemin is a young, talented player with 42 points on the season. Of course, it would be difficult to see Toronto give up such a cost-controlled valuable offensive piece for a 30 year old defenseman. The same could be said for Mikhail Grabovski, a 27 year old forward with similar production (and the last thing Colorado needs right now is another center).
Phil Kessel is out of the question on both sides, though his salary is a good fit. Toronto wouldn’t give him up, and Colorado doesn’t want his long contract.
Toronto is almost certain to offer one of their newly-gained first round draft selections, but they don’t have a good combination of players and contracts that the Avalanche are willing to take on. It’s difficult to project what type of offer was made, but GM Greg Sherman was probably very quick in saying “no”, at least this time.