With the loss of Alex Pietrangelo to Vegas in free agency, 27-year-old defenseman Colton Parayko is now expected to step into the role of the Blues top defenseman. He has shown, with his performance in the past couple of seasons, that he is ready for the challenge.
Ability To Play Big Minutes
During his career, even going back to his time in college with Alaska-Fairbanks, Parayko has proven that he can handle big minutes when called upon. This past season, he averaged just slightly more than 23 minutes a night, ranking second on the team. The only defenseman that played more minutes than Parayko was Pietrangelo (24:11).
And, when it really matters, he can log even more minutes. During the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals he averaged more than 26 minutes per game. In fact, he never played less than 26:08 in all seven games, while also going head to head with the Bruins top line.
If you were to ask him, 30 minutes a game is not a problem. He did it all the time in college.
Veteran Presence And Leadership
After five seasons and nearly 400 games in the NHL, Parayko can now be considered a veteran. He entered the league described by former Blues goalie Carter Hutton as a “ Shy and awkward around the guys in the locker room”. Now, he’s not afraid to speak up and become more of a leader on and off the ice.
His experience will also allow him to become a mentor to the Blues younger defensemen — such as Niko Mikkola and Scott Perunovich — and as for his leadership ability, he has worn an ‘A’ on his sweater on a couple of occasions.
His Slap Shot
As anyone who watches the Blues knows, Parayko has an extremely heavy slap shot, one that has been clocked at well over 100 mph on multiple occasions. He may not use his howitzer of a shot as much as many Blues fans would like him to, but it is a weapon in his arsenal.
When he does use it, it’s a very effective shot that gets to the net. As Colton’s former teammate Alex Pietrangelo said:
“It’s hard to stop if he’s going to…. When Pary’s shooting, it’s not easy to set a screen. When he’s shooting the puck good things are going to happen.”
So if he uses his slap shot more times next season it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he is a 40+ point defenseman and potentially a Norris trophy candidate.
These things combined with his skating skills, shot blocking, and the fact that he is just entering the prime of his career at 27 years old could make him the Blues top defenseman for years to come.
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