Is John-Michael Liles' Time Winding Down with the Colorado Avalanche?

James CriderCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 25:  John-Michael Liles #4 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck during the game against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center on November 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The John-Michael Liles era may be coming to an end.

Once a mainstay on Colorado's top defensive pairing, Liles has slipped to the third pairing in favor of players like Ryan Wilson, all the while his offensive numbers continue to decrease and his defensive lapses continue to be more glaring.

Last game, after being on the ice for three of the first four Washington goals, Liles was benched for the entire third period by coach Joe Sacco. His minus-five rating is worst among Avalanche defensemen.

For a defenseman who scored 38 goals his first three NHL seasons, Liles progression has been a disappointment. Many analysts believed he would develop into a premier offensive defenseman as time went on, but it just hasn't happened.

Liles is on pace for his third straight season with less than forty points, and it doesn't help that former Avalanche GM Francois Giguere signed him to a bloated four year deal running through the 2012 season that has an annual salary cap hit of 4.2 million dollars per season.

He just isn't worth it anymore.

With Scott Hannan, Ryan Wilson, Kyle Cumiskey, Tom Preissing signed through next year, along with new contracts coming to Kyle Quincey and likely Adam Foote, and the probability that at least one of Avalanche defensive prospects Kevin Shattenkirk or Cameron Gaunce make the jump to the NHL, Liles appears to be on the outside looking in.

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The Progression of John-Michael Liles

2000: Is drafted 159th overall by the Colorado Avalanche.

2004: Makes his NHL debut and scores 10 goals and 34 points throughout the course of the season.

2006: Improves his play, scoring 14 goals and 49 points.

2007: Another strong year with 14 goals and 44 points

2008: Has an off year with only six goals and 32 points. Is signed to a four year, $16.8 million contract by Francois Giguere.

2009: Bounces back with a 12 goal, 39 point effort, but is a glaring minus-19.

2010: Currently has two goals in 24 games and was recently benched by Joe Sacco.

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