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Publish Date: 8/19/2005

Liles signs 1-year contract with Avs
Defenseman earned accolades as rookie


John-Michael Liles was a bright spot for the Colorado Avalanche as a rookie, and he’ll be back this year to make more memories.

The Avs announced Thursday that they will have the defenseman out of Michigan State on the roster af-

ter he signed his qualifying offer. Liles signed a one-year, $450,000 contract with Colorado, which is the league minimum.

Liles, 24, was the NHL leading scorer among rookie defensemen in 2003-04, with 10 goals and 24 assists. Those 10 goals were the highest tally by a rookie defenseman

in franchise history, and his 34 points were the most by a rookie defenseman in the NHL since Lubomir Visnovsky tallied 39 points with the Kings in 2000-01. Colorado’s eighth selection (159th overall) in 2000, Liles was named to the 2003-04 NHL All-Rookie

Team in recognition of his outstanding season.

“John-Michael showed us that he is capable of being the kind of player that will excel in the new NHL,” Avs president and general manager Pierre Lacroix said. “He’s a very smart, skilled player who has a bright future ahead of him.”

Now that Liles has signed his qualifying offer, the Avs have 29 players under contract, not including restricted free agent Riku Hahl, who has not yet signed his offer. Right now, the Avs are above the $39 million salary cap, but a team is allowed to carry only 23 players on the roster, so by the start of training camp, they will be under the cap.

Of the 23 players who will start the season, center Joe Sakic and defenseman Rob Blake — with combined salaries of more than $13 million — will account for 33 percent of the salary cap.

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