Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leafs extend John-Michael Liles 4 years. What's next for Leafs?

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a significant long-term move today signing Defenceman John-Michael Liles to a 4 year contract extension with an annual cap hit of $3.875M. The extension will see Liles in a Leafs jersey through the 2015-16 season. Acquired via trade from the Colorado Avalanche for a 2nd round pick(originally from Boston as part of the Kaberle deal) Liles has been a stable veteran presence on D and a great quarterback on the powerplay.

Currently on the Injured Reserve with a concussion, the extension comes as a bit of a surprise, however it shows the Leafs confidence that Liles will be back healthy and 100% shortly.

So what does this mean for the rest of the Maple Leafs D? As it stands now the Leafs Cody Franson and Keith Aulie are the only two defencemen on the active roster not with a contract next season, both are Restricted Free Agents at seasons end. With Liles locked up long-term and an abundance of young quality players on the Leafs back end, a trade could be in the works for one of the following players;

Keith Aulie, 22, D:

A young, big and mobile defender with a ton of upside makes Aulie a very sought after prospect. Originally acquired along with Dion Phaneuf from the Calgary Flames Aulie hasn't stuck with the Leafs roster full-time and has spent time going back and forth between the AHL Toronto Marlies and the Leafs in the NHL.

Luke Schenn, 22, D:

Schenn has had his name thrown around in a number of trade rumors as of late, most notably rumors surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers. Schenn could be thrown into the mix as the trade deadline draws near, but the return to the Maple Leafs would have to be very worth while to Brian Burke and the Leafs to help them win NOW.

Mike Komisarek, 30, D:

Luckily Komisarek hasn't been as bad as he was last season, and at times he has shown he can be a shutdown defender for the Leafs. Having said that, if a trade came along where Toronto could unload his enormous $4.5M contract(which runs through the 2013-14 season) the Leafs would be foolish to pass it up.

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