Last, but definitely not least, for players that suddenly wore out a welcome, we have Colton Parayko. My, how the mighty have fallen.
To an extent, we only have ourselves to blame. As fans, we always went a current player to the the new incarnation of this guy or that guy.
We want Robert Thomas to be the new Adam Oates or Bernie Federko. We hoped Vladimir Tarasenko would be the next Brett Hull. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a young man, especially when the styles don’t always fit.
Fans really didn’t do Parayko any favors. We thought he would be the next Al MacInnis with a Chris Pronger body – the best of both worlds, right?
That’s a terrible burden. Those are two Hall of Fame players with Stanley Cups and Norris Trophies to their names.
While they were never realistic expectations, Parayko has not lived up to those lofty aspirations. He is afraid to unleash that cannon shot and his mild manners have prevented him from showing even 1/10th the nastiness Pronger would showcase.
Even if you take those comparisons away, Parayko just has not yet shown the ability to be what the Blues need him to be. I was all on board with letting him be the top defender when Alex Pietrangelo wanted his overpriced contract.
Parayko was more worth his money and was also younger. He seemed ready for that next phase of being a leader.
Whether perception or reality, his nice guy demeanor seems to hold him back. You don’t get the sense he’s leading anyone on the ice, much less the locker room.
This was a guy whose name was vaguely mentioned as a potential captain when Petro left. There are multiple ways to lead, but that’s flimsy ground.
Parayko is still a good player. He does more than we give him credit for at times.
He led the team in blocked shots in 2021-22 by a wide margin. I’d bet most fans would not have guessed that since he’s often accused of getting out of the way or screening his own goalie but missing the puck.
For me, the issue is puck possession. Parayko has regressed.
Prior to his injury, Parayko was a stallion. He was fast and skilled enough that many claimed he could play forward if the Blues needed him to – they did come close when injury ravaged the forward lines a few seasons ago.
Now, that long stride has disappeared. Instead of confidently skating the puck out, Parayko stands behind the net and tries awful passes from the goal line.
There are plenty of talented players with worse turnover numbers, but he still led the team. Parayko gave the puck away the most out of any Blues player in the regular season and the playoffs.
St. Louis just cannot have that. They have skill and a bit of speed, but they’re not a team that transitions you to death.
They make smart plays through the neutral zone and, when at their best, move as five-man units. Parayko currently disrupts that.
His penchant for standing behind his own net for noticeably longer than any teammate keeps him further away than any teammate. St. Louis is not a stretch pass team and yet most his turnovers were trying to thread some imaginary needle when even a novice could tell it would be picked off.
His skating definitely improved from 2021 to 2021-22. You still have to wonder if something about that back injury is holding him back.
Parayko is only 29 and just seems diminished. Unfortunately, the Blues have to make a decision soon.
If he is no longer the player he was or might have been, his stock will only decrease. St. Louis is tied to Parayko with a very long-term deal, but you might be able to convince a team to take on that burden now, but not later.
Personally, I don’t want any of these players gone. They all have talent and can help this team.
The problem becomes that all three go through periods where the only time they help the team is when they are at their best. A player still needs to be beneficial to his team even if he’s having a mediocre night.
If Parayko is not on, he’s handing the puck to the opponent. If Kyrou isn’t scoring, he’s a ghost. Scandella just seemed to be punching above his weight class on some nights.
Add that to the fact the Blues need cap flexibility and a player like Nick Leddy might be more a fit for this team, then you have decisions to make. Don’t listen to the social media types that say give any of these players up for the proverbial back of pucks.
We would be foolish not to think they are now expendable. None are untouchable as we sit here today.