The Colorado Avalanche made a long suspected move just hours before the 2011 NHL Draft, sending veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a second round selection in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Liles has been a common trade-deadline target for several years, including rumors of a trade to the Maple Leafs for a third round selection at this year's deadline. The long-time Avalanche defenseman has played all seven years of his career in a Colorado sweater and scored 46 points last season in one of his better years. He'll provide offensive punch to a Toronto blue line that is desperately in need of scoring assistance.
It;s not surprising that the Avalanche obtained a second round pick -- they've had great success in recent years in the second round with Ryan O'Reilly, Calvin Pickard, and Stefan Elliott, among others. Considering the shallowness of the 2011 draft, a pick in 2012 may provide better long term value to the franchise.
Does this mean that Colorado is likely to select Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson with the second overall pick? This move could possibly pave the way towards a more responsible blue line. It could also allow the Avalanche to spend heavily on quality free agent defensemen this offseason.