Avs agree on two-year deal with defenseman Liles

DENVER -- After losing Rob Blake to Los Angeles, the Avalanche bolstered their defense Wednesday by agreeing to a two-year contract with John-Michael Liles.

Liles, 25, finished second among Avalanche defensemen in points last season and tied Blake for first in goals (14). He also had 35

Liles is the first defenseman to record 30 or more points in each of his first two seasons (Brian Rafalski, 1999-2001).

"John-Michael Liles is one of the top young offensive
defensemen in the league," general manager Francois Giguere said.
"He has been a key contributor to our blueline in his first two
seasons and is a very skilled defenseman who will continue to help
our power play."

Liles was Colorado's eighth pick in the 2000 draft out of Michigan State.

The Avalanche also said it has agreed to terms with defenseman Jeff Finger and free agent forwards Ben Guite, Matt Murley and Mark Rycroft.

Finger, 26, spent the 2005-06 season with Lowell of the American Hockey League, compiling three goals and 20 assists in 70 games. He
led the Lock Monsters with 116 penalty minutes.

"Finger has shown progress in his development over the last few
seasons," Giguere said. "He certainly has the potential to play
at the NHL level in the coming years."

Guite was part of the Boston Bruins organization, while Murley spent last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rycroft, a former player with the University of Denver, played in 80 games for St. Louis last year.