Blues defenseman Colton Parayko just completed his second season in the NHL and continues to garner plenty of league-wide attention.
Parayko, who is currently representing Canada at the IIHF World Championships in Paris and Cologne, Germany, raised eyebrows playing with fellow second-year NHL partner Joel Edmundson; both solidified their spots as the Nos. 3-4 defenseman on this team after the trade of Kevin Shattenkirk.
Parayko recently turned 24, his stock continues to soar and he talks about the Blues' season, their future moving forward and his expectations as he enters free agency as a restricted free agent:
What was your biggest takeaway? What do you feel is going to benefit you in the future?
Just stick with the process. Things don't always go your way or the team's way and when the team comes together and works together as a unified unit, it's pretty special. We're a very good hockey club, we're young and we have lots to look forward to for sure.
How did you feel about the playoff you and Edmundson had?
It was a lot of fun for us. I think we benefit each other in our games. He's a big body, he plays really well, he's smart with the puck, he skates well. He's just an overall well defender. It makes it easy for me to play with him because he's great out there.
Do you see growth in Edmundson's game?
Yeah, he continues to grow for us. It's one of those things where you can kind of come every day and you almost learn new things every day just because things move fast, at a fast pace but you want to keep getting better. He's done a good job of kind of grasping those things.
How far do you feel you've come along in two years?
I think I'm improving. It's one of those things that you want to just continue to get better. There's so much to learn throughout the whole season that you kind of try to take as much as possible and take everything that's there.
Is it meaningful to you that Mike Yeo trusted you and Edmundson in a lot of key moments?
A hundred percent, especially when you get that kind of confidence from your coach and the players, it's pretty special and only boosts our pairing's confidence. When you get that, you always want to put everything on the line for the team and make sure that we're there to get wins.
Do you like how it looks that almost everyone is going to be here next year as opposed to last summer?
A hundred percent. I thought we had a great group, our character was unbelievable, especially with how things were going and the way we responded was pretty special and to be a part of that was pretty cool because I think it's a huge learning curve for us and it's a good opportunity for us to see how we can play. Obviously we have a younger group but we also have a lot of veterans because those guys have been since Day 1 for me, just from a personal standpoint, they've been unbelievable for me to follow, for me to learn from. They've taught me so much. It's an exciting time for us I think because us young guys are learning lots and hopefully moving forward.
Do you feel like a leader now at 24?
Not quite. Maybe hopefully give myself a few more years, but I'm still in a position where I want to keep learning so much. I still want to grow my game a ton. I wouldn't say that quite yet. I want to obviously be a leader. I want to try to help, but I'm in a role where I continue to learn.
Is there a specific aspect of your game right now that you want to work on?
Not really. I think overall, just my whole game. Defensively obviously.
Would you like to get your contract settled sooner rather than later?
I don't know. It's kind of not for me. I'm honestly just kind of letting it go. This is my first time through it, so I think it's one of those things where we're in no rush, I don't think. It's one of those things where I want to learn a lot through the process, so I'm in no rush, I don't think. I don't know. I just want to learn from the process, enjoy it and go from there.
Is it a good feeling that you've put yourself in that position?
Yeah, hopefully. I guess so, I don't know. Hopefully.
Are you going on to the World Championships? (Asked before it was confirmed)
Yeah, I think so. I think I'm going to head out tomorrow or the next day. I'm looking forward to it. It's a good opportunity to get over to Europe and just keep playing hockey, I guess.
Has it been a long year for you?
It has been, but I feel good. I was thinking if we were still here playing, I still have a lot of energy, so I could have kept playing here. Now I'll go there and enjoy it and have some fun.
With each game being so tight in Nashville series, do you have a feeling you should have won it?
We did have some good pushes. It's one of those things where you see it often and playoff hockey's so tight. You can run into a hot team, a hot goaltender so quickly. That's kind of what it was. I thought we had great efforts. We had a lot of good looks each game. Obviously our goaltending was great all series long, all playoffs long I guess for that matter. They gave us a chance to win every night. It was a fun process to be a part of. It's one of those things where we can definitely gather as much as possible because with the group we have, it seems like we're going to recapture everyone and I like our chances with this group.
What should be the expectations for you guys now moving forward?
Keep going forward. Expectations are to be going deeper into the playoffs and potentially obviously going all the way because every guy in the locker room wants to be on a championship team. Our expectations are only going to get higher because like you said, people have considered it a transition year, but I thought we had a team with a great group in here. We were close to getting back to the Western Conference Final obviously, a couple goals away. It's one of those things where you kind of bring this group back and what we've now been through, I'm excited.