Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Parayko continues to climb Blues' prospect depth chart

Defenseman adds strong camp to an already impressive resume

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- At 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, it would be most difficult to not notice Colton Parayko.

To say the least, it would be safe to assume Parayko would be one of the more imposing figures walking into any locker room.

However, as difficult as it may seem for Parayko, the Blues' third round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, he's gone unnoticed for most of his hockey life.

Playing for the St. Albert Flyers in 2008-09 and for the St. Albert Crusaders in 2009-10, little fanfare comes from those options. Then when Parayko made the move to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 2010 and 2011, it was another step in the process for the St. Albert, Alberta native.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Colton Parayko (pictured) left another strong mark
at Blues prospect camp last week. 

"I was just the sixth or seventh d-man, kind of in and out of the lineup my first year," Parayko said recently at the Blues prospect camp.

Parayko, 22, is used to working his way up a lineup. It was a way of life playing at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for three seasons beginning in 2012. Nobody knew much about the Nanooks.

"When I got there, I kept working hard and kept moving forward as every year progressed," Parayko said. "It's kind of isolated and a smaller school for sure. It was pretty neat to go there and just be there as a player."

But the Blues had scouted a large, imposing figure and were well aware of Parayko's rising stock.

They took a chance on a raw figure that had great potential. Parayko had six goals and 23 points in 34 games at Fairbanks last season, but the Blues thought so much of him, they signed him to a three-year entry-level contract immediately last season and ushered Parayko to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League immediately, and thus, use a year of eligibility on him.

Parayko had arrived and made an immediate impact with the Wolves.

"I felt like I played a pretty strong game in Chicago," said Parayko, who had four goals and seven points in 17 games. "I had the opportunity to play some special teams as well as regular ice time. They really trusted me, which is great. They treated me really well. That obviously helped my situation out. When I was brought in, the guys were great, the coaching staff. Everyone associated with the team was great. That made everything so much easier. 

"Obviously I was a little nervous heading in there. I wasn't sure what to expect, what exactly pro hockey was going to be like. Maybe the intensity was a little bit higher, but I don't think anything really overwhelmed me. I think I was expecting to come in and work really hard."

And when Parayko arrived for Blues prospect camp, it was tough to take ones eyes off his ability to move at a crisp pace for a guy his size as well as puck-handle his way through fellow prospects during scrimmages.

"Colton Parayko is different from a lot of players his size," said Tim Taylor, the Blues' director of player development. "His mobility is his biggest asset. He can stop and start again, he closes gaps pretty quickly. Offensively, he's got a great shot, he sees the ice, he's strong on the puck. 

"The one thing that's above everyone else is his work ethic. No one comes in after a draft and two years later, add 25-26 pounds added on to their frame and lose two or three percent body fat. His work ethic is second to no one I've seen so far as a young prospect. That alone gives him a huge advantage over a lot of players."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
At 6-5, 218 pounds, Colton Parayko continues to shoot his way up the Blues'
rankings among defensive prospects.

A two-way defenseman who is comfortable playing in both zones, Parayko won't change his ways. He's always felt that his best attribute is his work ethic. It's enabled him to progress step by step at each challenge faced. And although Parayko is destined for a full season with the Wolves, he will arrive at the Blues' training camp looking to leave a mark.

Just as Parayko's done at each destination. 

"It's all part of the process," Parayko said. "You can't go in with the mindset that you're going to make anything or you should be somewhere. You have to come with an open mindset and just embrace anything you can and be anywhere that you'll be. That's just the way you have to look at it and keep your mind open and your eyes open to everything. Just work hard, bury your head and embrace the role that you're put into wherever you are or whatever it may be."

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