Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blues sign Parayko to five-year, $27.5 million contract

Defenseman was scheduled for arbitration hearing 
Thursday morning, will average $5.5 million per season

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The wait is over for Blues defenseman Colton Parayko.

Just minutes before the team and Parayko were headed to arbitration, the sides came to a resolution on a new deal after announcing the signing of a five-year, $27.5 million contract for the restricted free agent ($5.5 million AAV).

The contract will take Parayko, 24, through the 2021-22 season when he can become an unrestricted free agent.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues and defenseman Colton Parayko (pictured)
avoided arbitration Thursday with Parayko signing a 
five-year contract worth $27.5 million.

With Parayko filed arbitration, teams were no longer allowed to submit offer sheets for him, and a hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday morning in Toronto. 

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that the Blues offered a two-year, $7 million contract ($3.4 million next season and $3.6 million in 2018-19) for the arbitration hearing; Parayko's camp reportedly countered with a one-year offer at $4.85 million. 

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said he earlier in the summer he was always committed to signing Parayko and that it was a priority to keep the 2012 third-round pick around in a Blues uniform.

"We're obviously pleased to have Colton signed up for five years," Armstrong said Thursday morning. "We think that he's just starting to scratch the surface on what he's becoming in this league. He's got two years now of service where he understands the commitment necessary, he understands the league, he understands the players. We just think he has a really strong upside and we're excited to have him for the next five years.

"Our goal was to try and get him a contract with some term. Arbitration wasn't a big issue if we had gone just because he's three years away from unrestricted free agency. It wasn't something that we were walking him right through the door or taking another opportunity to get a long-term deal. The process of going wasn't an issue for us or for Colton. When we talked this morning, Colton and I and Marty Brodeur had a good opportunity to do that and sort of try and describe what we're building and what we're planning. Having (Jaden) Schwartz signed with some term and (Vladimir) Tarasenko and Jake Allen and to have him under some term, he'll be a part of a core group of guys that we can continue to grow with."

Parayko has played two seasons in the NHL with the Blues and is coming off a four-goal, 31-assist season in 81 games and established himself with fellow blue liner Joel Edmundson as a solid, reliable duo. Parayko averaged 21:12 in ice time last season.

Parayko's AAV makes him the second-highest paid defenseman on the team, behind captain Alex Pietrangelo, who has three years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $6.5 million.

With Parayko, Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Edmundson in the fold, the Blues are pleased with their d-core moving forward.

"Our defense has always been one of our strengths," Armstrong said. "When you get a third-round pick that burst onto the scene like Colton did a couple years ago, it really opened up different avenues. We're really excited to have him a part of our group. We're excited. We really think that (Jordan) Schmaltz and (Vince) Dunn and (Jake) Walman all will have an opportunity to play. They might not all live to play because that's just the way the league works out, but if we can get a few of those guys to be NHL players, more than just your run of the mill players but good NHL players, we'll be in great shape for a long time to come in the back end."

Parayko had nine goals and 24 assists in 79 games as a rookie after playing college hockey at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a short 17-game stint with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League; he made the All-Rookie Team in 2015-16.

Parayko's season last year was overloaded; he played for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey prior to his NHL season and represented Canada at the IIHF World Championship after the Blues were eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

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