Please welcome Caitlin to St. Louis Game Time - this is her first post for the site. I’m aware many readers may or may not agree with the opinion pieces posted around here, and that’s why God (ok, it was Vox Media) invented the comments section. - Hildy
When Colton Parayko entered the league in the ‘15-’16 season after making the team as a longshot out of camp with his height and booming slap shot reminiscent of Al MacInnis, he was immediately expected to become an elite point-producer on the blueline for the Blues.
However, both coaching and player changes over the years, along with injuries in the ‘20-’21 season has slowed his rise towards elite defenseman and Norris Trophy contender status leading many fans to want the Blues to move on from Parayko.
If you read the comments on Facebook posts related to the Blues over the course of the last season you surely saw the ones calling for the Blues to trade Parayko. However, going into the offseason, it was revealed that along with the back injury, which everyone knew about, he also had a minor knee injury, and if I remember correctly, a wrist injury.
The long offseason after being eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Colorado Avalanche in a four-game sweep allowed him time to heal and he has rebounded this season, proving all of his doubters from the past season wrong by putting up 16 points (4 goals and 12 assists) in just 34 games played this season and if he is able to remain healthy both on the injury and Covid fronts, he could very well have another 30 point season.
The change in defense partners has also made a difference in his play as he began the season paired with Marco Scandella which led to lots of turnovers and in turn, lots of goals against. In Mid-November, the duo of Scandella and Parayko ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively in giveaways.
After the changes made to the blueline to try and help spark the offense paired him with the up-and-coming Niko Mikkola it seemed to help Colton's puck-handling skills, reducing the number of turnovers per game, in turn, reducing the number of goals against the Blues.
After losing his two former defensive partners, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester it appears that Mikkola is the answer to the Blues question of who to pair with Parayko to get the best performance out of him.