Why the Blues Can't Afford Losing Colton Parayko

The 31-year-old defenseman is one of St. Louis' best defensive players, coming off his best season scoring wise since the year the Blues won it all
St Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild
St Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages

The St. Louis Blues' offseason checklist is vast, and with the 2024 Entry Draft still just a few weeks away, the priority is to keep things balanced between the younger and older players, especially if one of the latter is a key part to returning to the postseason.

St. Louis Blues: Don't give up on Colton Parayko

31-year-old defenseman Colton Parayko is arguably the Blues' top D-man, being so in 2023/24, where he had 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points, one of his best career finishes since 2018/19, where the Blues won the Cup, and the following season. As a matter of fact, his numbers in those seasons are nearly identical to this season's (2018/19: 10 G, 18 A, 28 PTS; 2019/20: exact same numbers). One key difference is that in the latter of those two seasons, Parayko didn't see the ice as many times, playing 64 games in 2019/20 compared to 80 games in 2018/19. This season saw him compete in all 82 regular season games, the first time he's done so since 2017/18, his 3rd season in the NHL. In 9 years with the Blues, Parayko has logged 659 games with 61 goals and 198 assists for 259 career points. Remember, defensemen don't score as much as other players, which is why their assist numbers are much higher than their goal numbers.

It's not like Parayko would be up for trading anyway- he, like some of the Blues' younger star players, is locked into a contract until 2030/31. By that time, Parayko would be 37 years old and probably would've hung up the skates earlier. The only concern for now is that Parayko is that he's one of 5 current Blues d-men who's at least 30 years old, the others being Justin Faulk (31), Torey Krug plus Nick Leddy (32), and Marco Scandella (33). In most major sports leagues, reaching 30 means that a player may only have a few years left in the tank to keep playing at their current level. And with so many of them on a team that desperately needs to retool its defense for next season, the Blues may need to stock up on defensemen in the draft or make some trades.

That could have problems of its own, however, since most of the top defensemen who are also set to be potential unrestricted free agents are of the same age as the Blues' current ones. And the fact that the top younger defensemen, many of which St. Louis would kill for, have restricted free-agent contracts already in place. Those take quite a lot of work to negotiate around. And the player serving as the one being negotiated often has the final say.

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft may be more of a priority for the Blues in attaining fresh new players that could bolster their weakened defense than free agency, and in some of their players' cases, helping to tweak their offense to get it to an effort worthy of making the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2025. More centers and wingers might help, especially Carolina's captain clutch, Martin Necas, who's been rumored among Blues trade theories in these past few weeks. Unless the Blues want to sit through the 2nd half of April and into June of that same part after next season, they need to acquire as many good players as possible to rework an aging defensive core while adding some extra offensive firepower on the side.