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John-Michael Liles re-signs for 4 years in Toronto



Liles defending against the Capitals

PHOTO: mapleleafs.com

John-Michael Liles signed a deal with the Maple Leafs where he would make 3.875M per year for the next four seasons. Shortly after hearing the news today, I learned something new. Apparently 30 is the new 50 and somehow I never noticed. There's a lot of backlash with Leafs fans about signing Liles to a four-year extension. Liles is 31 years old and so when his contract ends he will be 35. Apparently that's far too old for many Leafs fans (yeah, cause you wouldn't all kill to have Lidstrom in a Leafs uniform). Not to say that's a fair comparison, but that's why Liles signed to under 4 million dollars.

The Leafs are one of the youngest teams in the NHL, with an average age of about 26 years. Contrast that with the model hockey franchise, the Detroit Red Wings, who are over 29 years. Why so many fans are upset about signing a player in his 30's to less money than he made this year, when he was already being underpaid in my opinion, is beyond me. Great signing on Brian Burke's part as well as the rest of the Leafs management.

I gathered a list of NHL players who are older than Liles and would have a larger cap hit next season. Those players include:

Brian Campbell - 32 years old - 7.14M until 2016

Zdeno Chara - 34 years old - 6.91M until 2017, 4M cap hit in 2018

Dan Boyle - 35 years old - 6.66M until 2014

Wade Redden - 34 years old - 6.5M until 2014

Kimmo Timonen - 36 years old - 6.33M until 2013

Andrei Markov - 33 years old - 5.75M until 2014

Lubomir Visnovski - 35 years old - 5.6M until 2013

Sergei Gonchar - 37 years old - 5.5M until 2013

Tomas Kaberle - 33 years old - 4.25M until 2014

Ed Jovanovski - 35 years old - 4.125M until 2015

Mark Streit - 34 years old - 4.1M until 2013

Robyn Regehr - 31 years old - 4.02M until 2013

Marek Zidlicky - 34 years old - 4M until 2013

There are only a couple of these players I'd rather have on my team and they have twice the cap hit Liles will have next season.

Now there is a valid argument that at this point, if the salary cap doesn't change for next season, the Leafs will have just over 11M cap space next season. Aulie, Franson, Rosehill and Kulemin are all RFAs. Grabovski, Crabb, Boyce, and Gustavsson are all UFAs. It seems there's barely enough money to sign the key players for next season, and if that happens the Leafs will be the same team next year as they are this year. The flaw in the argument is that one would assume the Leafs wont make a trade or buy out a contract or do something to free up any extra cap space they need. By some peoples logic you should not sign one of your best players because other under-performing players are on your team taking up all the cap. Sounds pretty stupid to me.

Liles is a great puck moving defenseman. We've seen the difference in the Toronto's powerplay when he is in the line-up as opposed to when he's not. He's not a defensive liability like many other powerplay specialists in the league. He brings experience to a very young team, he's a hard-worker, he leads by example on the ice and he's a leader in the dressing room... Any GM that wouldn't sign him is a fool and should be locked up in a room with John Ferguson Jr.



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