Blues fans, meet Colton Parayko. The 22 year old Canadian is enjoying his first season with St. Louis after a 17 game stay in Chicago last season with the Wolves. The kid didn't waste any time thrilling people. He scored two goals in Calgary and has logged around 18 minutes of ice time in his first four games. Should fans start getting weird with this kid and fall in love or keep their distance? I think he's like a well done double cheeseburger at a midnight diner. I wouldn't write a story about it on the way home but I would revisit this joint a few times to find out how good it really is.
Parayko likes to shoot, which is a refreshing trend for Blues defensemen. With no offense to Alex Pietrangelo, he can hit the net more consistently and has a heavy shot. He doesn't just slice wrist shots at the net. He will wind up and fire. In his first four games, he has taken eight shots. That may not seem like a great total to an outsider, but it's good to see the Blues defense gain some young blood like Parayko and Joel Edmundson. The speed they have added is apparent and the way they get out of their own zone and fly through the neutral zone instead of lagging behind is something Hitch is finally turning loose.
The departure of a beloved veteran like Barret Jackman wasn't easy to swallow, but you know what they say. An old cowboy who leaves on his horse always leaves his gun belt behind on the floor for a young buck to pick up. Okay, I totally made that up but the point is clear. Parayko is the future and in one game, he showed exactly what he can do. Make plays, be a big body on defense and influence a game in positive way instead of being a liability.
He even looked good Thursday night with Carl Gunnarsson, king of the "let's avoid stupid plays for a single game" club. If he can make it work with Gunny, Colton has a bright future on this team. That's like being settled up next to the out of shape kid in gym class who cares more about lunch time than winning this all important game in kickball.
Don't lose your mind over Parayko. He's 22 years old. Young, raw and capable of letting the Blues ruin him like they have other defensemen. Or things could just go bad. Remember Erik Johnson before he tried to exit a golf cart in the wrong way? Jackman before Derian Hatcher deposited his shoulder elsewhere behind the boards. He's only been here for four games so it's no time to go out and buy his jersey but designing a cool shirt wouldn't be out of the question if he survives this road trip in one piece. Look at what happened with Robby Fabbri. He scored a game winner, and fans thought he was the smoothest thing since non chunky peanut butter and then he got rocked and is out.
Be patient with Colton. He's everything that is right about this youth movement on defense and should be here for many years. There will be many opportunities to make cool nicknames for him and create a spectacle out of his ability. He plays the game in an entertaining way. He can handle the puck, light up the opposition, defend the net and act like he has been there.
He's six foot six inches tall and 226 pounds but Ken Hitchcock likes Parayko's poise and his ability to move with the puck, via a report after Calgary's game on NHL.com. While it's not time to lose your head over the new defenseman and his skill set, it's no secret that Colton Parayko will keep getting better and better every game.
Let's just hope he finds a better linemate than Gunnarsson.