The third-year pro is part of a great collective in St. Louis and he's taking on more responsibility as time goes on. How far can he help the Blues go?
I couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I get stuck on certain thoughts and when I saw Colton Parayko come off the ice at a recent morning skate, barely clearly the door frame at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, I wondered about the maintenance such a big body requires.
We all know that NHLers have to be superb athletes, where off-ice training, sleep and nutrition are just as important to the end result as practices, but players such as Parayko must count calories to make sure they’re getting enough of them every day, right?
“It’s in there,” Parayko said. “For sure in the summer too, when you’re doing a lot of training. It’s a long season and if you want to stay consistent and competitive, you want to make sure you give yourself a chance through nutrition. It’s a big thing, based on your body and how you feel.”
Which led me to my unusual query: What does a typical Colton Parayko breakfast look like?
“Coffee, orange juice, water,” he said. “Four-to-six eggs, turkey bacon or maybe sausage, hash browns…and a fruit bowl. Gotta have fruit in there.”
That’s a lot of food. But it makes sense when you’re keeping the fire lit in such a big engine. And based on his growing role with the St. Louis Blues, Parayko needs it.
Now in his third season with the team, Parayko is playing career-high minutes. His average of 22:47 per night is second on the team to Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues have needed the youngster. Not only did they lose Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline last season, but this year veteran Jay Bouwmeester has been limited to 16 games of action due to several different issues.
St. Louis has been hit by a couple of key injuries this season (Jaden Schwartz being another prominent victim), yet the Blues are still hanging tough in the Central Division. Pietrangelo is garnering Norris Trophy buzz and for Parayko, the veteran has been a great teammate.
“When you’re a young guy like me that gets an opportunity to play with someone like that, you have to take as much out of it as you can,” Parayko said. “He’s not only a special player, but a special person, too. He takes the time to help you get better and discuss things. Off the ice, he’s awesome too.”
The Blues have been getting things done through balance in recent years, so it’s nice to see Pietrangelo get some love from the hockey community for his strong overall play. It’s also within the realm of possibility that we’ll be talking about Parayko in similar terms soon.
After all, the 24-year-old is still coming into his own and has a wide array of talents that make him an effective defenseman. On top of the size, Parayko owns a booming shot and great mobility, particularly for someone who is 6-foot-6. A hidden gem during his time at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Parayko overwhelmed opponents at the Traverse City rookie tournament in Michigan and looked good at the World Cup of Hockey as part of Team North America. But he’s not one to rest on past accomplishments.
“It’s a league where you have to continue to improve,” he said. “If you want to be consistent you have to work on it and I try to prepare myself for games as best as possible.”
The Blues are trying to prepare for another playoff run, one they undoubtedly hope will end with the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup title. With Parayko on the rise and a great cast around him, they’re definitely in the mix.