St. Louis Blues 2017-18 Final Report Card: Colton Parayko

DENVER, CO - APRIL 07: Colton Parayko
DENVER, CO - APRIL 07: Colton Parayko /

The St. Louis Blues were hoping for a gigantic step forward from third year defenseman Colton Parayko. Instead, he ended up taking somewhat of a step backward.

The St. Louis Blues were hoping they had one of their future cornerstone defenders when they gave Colton Parayko a five-year contract worth $5.5 million per season. As seems to be the curse with the Blues, the player did not quite live up to the deal.

Parayko did not have a bad season. In fact, he tied his career best for points. However, when everything is taken into account, it just was not what any of us expected from him in his third season.

Final Grade: B-

Like some of the other Blues, if you look at the grade for Parayko in a vacuum, you’d ask what is wrong with that. A B- is not fantastic, but it’s still a higher than average season.

Think about that last statement though. That is probably the Blues biggest problem as a whole. They are simply higher than average and that’s now what wins championships.

Parayko embodied that sentiment in 2017-18. He had an ok season statistically, but took a step backward in several areas of the game.

Starting with the positives, Parayko continues to be a decent offensive contributor. He scored six goals, which was up from 2016-17. As mentioned, he also tied his personal best with 35 points in the season.

On top of the points, Parayko set other career bests. He had the most hits of his career by checking 120 times.

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He had more shots than any time in his career with 212. Parayko also had the most blocked shots (141) of any season professionally.

Switching to the negatives, Parayko went from a plus-28 in his rookie season to a plus-7 last year and then a minus-7 in 2017-18. His shooting percentage went up a tick, but that’s not enough. With 212 shots and one of the harder shots in the league, Parayko is still not confident in unleashing toward goal.

When he does shoot, it is often wide. He seems timid, whether due to the rash of broken sticks or something else, to let loose with his formidable slap shot as well.

If you have a guy with an unbelievable slap shot that is afraid to use it, that takes away much of his offensive power. The Blues need Parayko to develop into someone that can be a force from the blue line, whether at even strength or the power play.

Parayko only had two power play goals in 82 games played. Granted, that’s 33% of his total goals, but that’s simply not enough.

Even if you want to argue he’s not an offensive defenseman, the defensive side was lacking too. His possession stats are fine, but the giveaways went up for the third year in a row. It’s not as though you can just attribute it to more ice time either. The mistakes are coming in costlier areas of the ice and worse times during the games.

One of the biggest problems Parayko has had is too many voices in his ear. People telling him to do this or that and during his sophomore season, it seemed to really confuse him. Perhaps he has lost his way a bit due to the coaching change and being asked to do different things again.

The bottom line is that Parayko was not as good a player as he was the previous year or the year before that. Seeing a downward trend, even if only slight, is not something you want from a player you just rewarded.

As fans, that is what we have to hope happened in 2017-18. Fans love to say “that’s no excuse” but there is a trend in sports for players to have a slight slump after getting paid.

It happens to the best of us. You’re sitting on top of the world, knowing you don’t have to bust your hump like mad just to scratch a living. Even if you try not to, subconsciously, you’re going to switch off a little.

Hopefully that is what happened to Parayko. Year four will be a very telling sign. For now, you can say you had a small sophomore slump and then an off year after getting the big contract. If things continue down in the fourth season, you have to worry.

Next: Joel Edmundson's Final Report Card

Right now, it’s just a bump in the road. There is too much skill in there – we have heard that plenty of times before, I grant you. We may never get the offensive numbers we would like, but if we get the best Parayko has to offer then that’s good enough.

For this season, he was good enough but that was not good enough for the team. The Blues needed the big step forward because they had so many holes that needed plugging. Instead, the small step backward for the player was part of a giant leap the wrong direction for the team.