The Toronto Maple Leafs have swung a deal to obtain John-Michael Liles from the Colorado Avalanche.
Liles earned a career-high 40 assists last season on a Colorado team that fell back after making the playoffs in 2009-10.
The Indianapolis native, who turns 31 in November, is familiar to Toronto general manager Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson not just for his NHL experience but through several turns representing the U.S. at international tournaments.
The connection with management had Liles thinking positively about his new situation.
"Really sad to be leaving Denver after 7 great years...but extremely excited to be joining the leafs this season!!!" the defenceman announced on his Twitter feed.
Among other things, Liles is looking forward to his new teammates.
"They've got a great young team. There's a lot of talent on that roster," Liles said. "I'm excited to play with [defenceman] Dion Phaneuf, I think that making him captain was a great decision and I think overall that team is heading in a great direction."
Liles has scored 68 goals and added 207 assists in 523 regular season games with Colorado, with 217 penalty minutes and a minus-16 rating.
The five-foot-10 blue-liner will represent a cap hit of between $4-4.5 million US next season and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012.
The Leafs will surrender a second round pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, a piece they picked up when the Boston Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Final earlier this month. It was a conditional pick that was part of the deal that sent Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins.
Dave Nonis, the Maple Leafs' senior vice president of hockey operations, said in Minnesota before the draft that he was close to making a trade 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."
Nonis said he believes Liles can fill Kaberle's role.