Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Parayko signs eight-year extension, passes on opportunity at free agency in 2022

Defenseman will be signed through 2029-30 season for $52 million 
($6.5 million AAV), could play out entire career for team that drafted him

ST. LOUIS -- Colton Parayko will likely play out his entire NHL career with one squad.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Colton Parayko could play out his entire NHL career with the Blues, who
drafted him in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft.

That determination will be made when he's 37 years old and it's not a given, but judging by the things of it and looking nine years down the road after the defenseman on Wednesday agreed to terms on an eight-year extension that will pay him $52 million ($6.5 million average annual value), a contract he signed on Thursday, the probability seems quite realistic.

"Yeah, for sure, that’s special, that’s really cool," Parayko said Thursday. "Obviously first year in the NHL Draft, I didn’t get drafted. Going into the second year, they took a chance on me. It’s pretty cool to obviously be with the team that took a chance on me. I'm looking forward to continuing this career in St. Louis. Not often a player gets the opportunity to do that. Everything's looking like that in the right direction. Hopefully everything goes well and we continue to be good and successful and a competitive team and I can spend all my years here in St. Louis."

Parayko, 28, had one year remaining on his current contract that pays him $5.5 million AAV for five years, and combined with the new extension, he will remain with the Blues through the 2029-30 season. He was slated to be an unrestricted free agent following this season.

It's the first time he passed on taking the chance to go through the UFA process. The first time, he gave up free agent years to gain more term on a five-year contract when he signed in 2017, and by the sounds of it, the UFA process was one that didn't interest him one iota. So he and the Blues quickly, within days, had a contract proposal on hand and put pen to paper on it quickly.

"I mean, it can be complicated," Parayko said of the free agency process. "I think for me personally, I just appreciate being in the same organization the whole time. Even for them, I guess, for this to kind of be approached at this time with one year left on my current deal, it's just nice to have that appreciation. It obviously goes to show what they think of me as a player. With that being said, it just makes me want to stay here and makes you want to be a St. Louis Blue and continue be a part of this team and continue to help it grow. I feel like being here six years, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot, I've had a lot of great teammates who have brought me into this organization and showed me the ropes. I’d think it would be very cool if I got an opportunity to do that for other players that get to throw that Bluenote on. I just hope I can do the job some of these other guys have done in the past to kind of pass that on." 

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound St. Albert, Alberta native was selected by the Blues in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft and keeps him locked up for at least the next six seasons with Justin Faulk and Torey Krug, who also each are on $6.5 million AAV contracts. The three will be the core of the Blues' defense for the foreseeable future.

"It’s a great place to play and I think when you have a great team, you want to continue to be on a good team," Parayko said. "When you’re on a team that’s been winning, want obviously want to continue to win. It’s fun, it’s exciting. I think it makes coming to the rink that much better. ... I think having a fair deal is the best for everybody."

Parayko played in just 32 games a season ago dealing with a lingering back issue that did not require surgery. It's the looming question that will be asked as the years pass whether the Blues took a risk on a back that could go at any time or did they get a bargain by locking up a player, at his best and 100 percent healthy, could be a cornerstone player for years to come at a reasonable price.

"It's doing really good," Parayko said of his back. "Nice to have a little time off, little bit of treatment for it. Back and ready to run. It's exciting. I’m looking forward to getting this year going. Obviously last year was a little different for me personally. Didn’t really have many injury issues before that season. Just a little different for me to learn about myself, a little bit about my body because I've never been through that in a season when you're away from the team and stuff with injuries. I've been fortunate that way. Just happy it’s back and ready to go, back to normal and looking forward to just having more healthy seasons.

"Mainly just rest. A lot of rest and just building up the muscles around it, and building up just different things, just muscles that are going to help. I don’t know. It’s been a good summer. I think rest has just been really good for it and it’s feeling just as good as it ever has. Can't complain."

But with Parayko's mobility and ability to break up plays with his wing span and puck-moving capabilities, it was obvious he wasn't at 100 percent even when in the lineup. Fortunately, no surgery was necessary.

"I don’t know. It was obviously not great," Parayko said. "There was definitely ... kind of it wasn't great to play out there with it, but I was just trying to play for the team and be there, but at some point, it's just kind of looking forward. I hope I have many more healthy years ahead of me. I’m glad that it’s one of those things where I took care of it and now I’m ready to rock and roll.

"I don’t really know about surgeries. Luckily no need for that, we didn’t even have to get that far. We obviously kept that out as far away as possible. We wanted to make sure we took proper steps and make sure we started from the bottom and make sure we tackle it the right way. Luckily we didn’t have to continue to go further and further and get that far. That's good, but as of right now, I honestly feel just as good as I feel coming into any other season. To be honest, I would say, yes, it feels as good as it has and I’m ready to tackle this season with all the games."
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) signed an eight-year contract
extension that will keep him in St. Louis through 2029-30.

Parayko has played in 418 regular-season games (six seasons) and has 171 points (41 goals, 130 assists) along with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 70 Stanley Cup playoff games, helping the Blues win their first-ever Cup in 2019 playing a shutdown role with partner Jay Bouwmeester.

The Blues are hopeful and counting on him getting back to the pre-injury form, which they believe he will making this lengthy of an investment.

"Obviously it’s been an exciting week for sure," Parayko said. "I think just moving forward, I think and hope my career is still young. I'm looking forward to obviously continuing my career playing a long time. It’s on me now to make sure that I just continue to come to the rink each day, prepare myself properly and make sure I can play a long time. I look forward to it, all signs are pointing me in the right direction, so I'm definitely excited for that."

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