The Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly traded defenseman John-Michael Liles and defense prospect Dennis Robertson to the Carolina Hurricanes for blueliner Tim Gleason.

Gleason now with the Leafs.

Gleason now with the Maple Leafs.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: Arguably the most anticipated trade of the season finally took place with Liles swapped for Gleason.  What took so long? Most likely ensuring the Leafs had enough cap space to take on Gleason’s contract. It wasn’t that much more expensive ($4 million per season) than Liles’ ($3.875 million per) but the Leafs had limited cap room earlier in the season and had to ensure they could take on Gleason’s deal and still leave themselves room for other additions if necessary.

 Gleason will likely be a better fit under Leafs coach Randy Carlyle’s physical defensive style than the smaller, smooth-skating Liles.It remains to be seen, however, if Gleason can improve Toronto’s struggling defense.

Liles gives the Hurricanes a more experience puck-moving defenseman to replace the sidelined Joni Pitkanen, though he lacks the latter’s size. Liles does play better in his own zone than his critics believe, so he could be an upgrade for the Hurricanes.