The St. Louis Blues’ 2020-21 season had its highs and lows, but ultimately ended in disappointment after the team fell in four games to the Colorado Avalanche in Round 1. In this series, we’ll look back on the season, player by player, and evaluate each player’s performance as an individual, with an eye towards their future with the team.
In a season where the Blues tried to make Colton Parayko the anchor of the blue line and their No. 1 guy, he struggled. He dealt with injuries all season and didn’t have the year he wanted when he played. There will be questions this summer as to whether he will remain with the club or be in trade talks, or even extension talks as his contract will expire at the end of the 2021-22 season. Either way, let’s take a look at the season it was for Parayko.
What Went Right: Playing Well Into Playoffs
He started to come along in parts of April and May as the Blues ramped up to get ready for the playoffs, but that didn’t seem to carry over into the series with the Avalanche.
It isn’t even numbers with Parayko at this point, it’s his zone entires and exits, combined with his aggressiveness with the puck. When he was fully healthy and playing well in 2019-20 and before, he was a very aggressive player with the puck – he would take it himself through the neutral zone and make a play.
We didn’t see that from him for most of the 2020-21 season, but I felt like he was starting to be that way late in the year.
However, if you look at numbers, Parayko played well in the first 12 games of the season before his back injury began to linger. He scored a goal and seven assists for eight points in those 12 games and was a plus-2. The injury really ruined his season, but he played well before it, and Blues fans may forget that.
He was playing heavy minutes then, too – let’s not forget the competition, as they played some of those games against the Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, as well as an improving Arizona Coyotes team.
What Went Wrong: Injuries
Parayko played only 32 out of 56 games this season, dealing with an obvious back issue that affected his play in a multitude of ways. He was even on long-term injured reserve at one point in the season.
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His aggressiveness, which is what made him so good early in his career, was virtually gone when he attempted to play through injury. We did see flashes of him being healthier toward the end of the season, but this injury basically ruined his season.
Overall, we didn’t get the point production or defensive season that we had hoped for with Parayko looking to become the anchor of the blueline. The injuries really derailed his season and you can’t really think otherwise with the evidence of it.
- Playoff stats: 4 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point
- Minus-5 in the playoffs
- 0.38 PPG (second-worst of career)
Final Grade: C+
Injuries ruined his season, no doubt about it. He just didn’t play as well as we hoped and that is due to his inconsistent play when he was on the ice, combined with the back issue.
I hope to see his aggressive style return next season that changes the entire narrative on the back-end for this franchise.
What’s Next for Parayko?
Well, I’m certain that trade rumors will be flying out there suggesting that the Blues will trade Parayko, which I don’t see happening. The only way he gets moved is if general manager Doug Armstrong is really going for the complete overhaul and system change, which even then, I don’t think it happens.
Parayko is in the final year of his deal, where he counts to the tune of $5.5 million against the cap. Parayko will go into next season as the likely No. 1 defender again. He must stay healthy for this team to reach the level we know they can in 2021-22.