I watch a lot of hockey. That isn't a brag, just stating something that anyone remotely close to me is already aware of. On any given week during the hockey season I’ll watch games from the NHL, AHL, KHL and even an obscure game from Poland. The point I'm trying to make is that watching a ton of hockey isn't taxing on my body. Well besides my sleep schedule occasionally. That isn't the case for defenseman Colton Parayko. The 23 year old continues his almost never ending hockey journey with today’s announcement that he’s joining the Canadian National team at the IIHF Worlds. It may surprise some but Parayko has never played for the national side, not even at the youth level.
Maybe that’s why he’s so willing to pack his bags and head to France. Canada’s next game is against the French actually, taking place Thursday afternoon. Currently Canada sits atop of Group B, three points ahead of second place Switzerland.
But after two full seasons in the NHL, Parayko has played a ton of hockey. Having played 160 regular season games and already 31 appearances in the post season. Tack on the three game stint last fall in the World Cup of Hockey and your total is 194 games. All that ice time in just two years and often playing top four defenseman minutes. Crazy to think it was only a few years ago Parayko would only play 35 or so games a season for Alaska-Fairbanks. His rapid growth to the NHL didn't need much seasoning.
As most (or all) know, Parayko is a RFA this summer. It remains to be seen if a bridge deal is in his future or if Blues management will lock Parayko long term. It really depends on how the expansion draft shakes out.
There’s no denying just how important Parayko is to the club, he’s more than just the future, he’s the present. I will forever respect Parayko’s love for the game, I truly get it. But when looking long term, staying home and giving his body a break from the ice is the smarter option. This season was a true grind for both the players and fans alike. Why not start next year fresh? The IIHF World Championships is a yearly event, the window for being a “cup contender” is a much more brief thing.