Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Colorado Avs defenceman Liles for draft pick

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TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs didn't wait for Friday night's NHL draft to pull the trigger on a new roster addition.

The Leafs acquired defenceman John-Michael Liles just hours before the entry draft from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a second-round pick in the next year's draft.

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

"I'm excited to play with Dion Phaneuf, I think that making him captain was a great decision and I think overall that team is heading in a great direction."

The pick was previously acquired by Toronto from the Boston Bruins as part of the Tomas Kaberle trade last February.

Dave Nonis, the Maple Leafs' senior vice-president of hockey operations, said in Minnesota before the draft the team was close to trading 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."

The five-foot-10, 185-pound Liles is set to make US$4.55 million this season and could become a unrestricted free agent next summer.

He's coming off a strong season where he registered six goals and a career-high 40 assists in 76 games.

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

The Indianapolis native, who has played his entire seven-year career in Colorado, led all Avalanche defencemen in scoring the past five seasons.

Liles has also played 36 playoff games in that span, notching four goals, seven assists for 11 points.

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