St. Louis Blues: Colton Parayko Is A Dark Horse Conn Smythe Candidate

St. Louis Blues

Colton Parayko has played some tough minutes for the St. Louis Blues. But, should he be considered for the Conn Smythe?

Tonight is Game 6 and the St. Louis Blues can erase 50+ years of misery and hoist the Stanley Cup. We all know that Alex Pietrangelo will receive that trophy, if the St. Louis Blues wins tonight. But, who will the NHL fork over the Conn Smythe Trophy to?

There are a lot of names being floated about. From Ryan O’Reilly, Jordan Binnington, and Vladimir Tarasenko, but an underrated candidate, in my eyes, is Colton Parayko.

Parayko

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Parayko is a guy that will not jump off the stat sheet, but he played top minutes against other teams top wingers through each round. He was able to shut down the likes of Patrik Laine, Tyler Seguin, and Logan Couture, and now he has been tasked with minimizing the impact of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Outside of the Game 3 blowout, the top line for Boston has been relatively quiet at 5 on 5.

As mentioned prior, Parayko will not tear the roof off with goals and assists. But, he does a great job at shutting down the competition. During the post-season, he’s mostly been paired with Jay Bouwmeester. Unfortunately, Bouwmeester isn’t the same defenseman that he once was. He’s slowed down since his days with the Calgary Flames. However, Parayko has taken a lot of the burden off of his back. Per the chart below from Sean Tierney, they’ve been one of the best defensive pairings. They have limited the amount of expected goals against. In addition, Parayko has fairly trustworthy for Craig Berube. Berube can be more at ease with Parayko on the ice than some of his other defenseman (i.e. Joel Edmundson and Vince Dunn). 

visual from Sean Tierney, data from MoneyPuck.com

In addition, per the visual below from Sean Tierney, Parayko has showed throughout the 2018-19 season that he’s a pest at the blue-line. He posted the second highest break-up percentage on the St. Louis Blues (just behind Alex Pietrangelo). Plus, Parayko creates a ton of zone exits and zone entries. He’s everything that you want in a two-way defenseman. It’s incredibly hard to find the perfect two-way defenseman, but the Blues have found one in Parayko. While he might not dazzle the eyes of fans with scoring chances, Parayko helps create the magic by getting the puck up the ice. So, don’t discount his efforts by saying that he’s not worthy of the Conn Smythe. His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and he should be considered.

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder

Lastly, Colton Parayko has been a +6 and has generated 54 shots on goal, all while averaging 24:58 TOI. Beyond those stats, he has been a joy to watch. He skates so smoothly for a big guy and moves the puck so well. For all of these reasons combined, I would cast my vote for Colton Parayko for the Conn Smythe.

stats from MoneyPuck.com, Corey Sznajder and Hockey-Reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

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Author: Justin Miner