ST. LOUIS – Very few have had a journey like St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko before their age-30 hockey season: A Stanley Cup championship, two outdoor games and plenty of 100-mile per hour slapshots under three head coaches.
Parayko is set to skate in his 500th career NHL game on Wednesday, when the Blues kick off their first road trip of the 2022-23 season against the Seattle Kraken.
The 29-year-old blue liner will reach the milestone early in his eighth professional season, his first campaign under an eight-year, $52 million contract with St. Louis.
“The fans in St. Louis make it a lot of fun for us,” said Parayko after the Blues’ season-opening victory Saturday. “It’s an exciting time of year. It’s always fun to get new [season] going, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Parayko started the season paired with fellow-veteran defenseman Nick Leddy, unloading for two 97-mph slapshots in the 2022-23 season opener. His slapshot been clocked as fast as 102 mph in a game and 104 mph in a skills competition, not too far off from Zdeno Chara’s 108-mph record in the same event.
“As much as he can tee it up and shoot, he should be [shooting] for sure,” said head coach Craig Berube after Saturday’s win.
Looking ahead to Parayko’s upcoming milestone, he will become just one of 21 skaters and seven defensemen to have played at least 500 games in a St. Louis Blues uniform. He will have done it having missed only 39 regular season games over eights years, playing in 92.5% of all Blues games since his debut.
With a long contract ahead, could Colton Parayko end up breaking the St. Louis Blues record for all-time games played? If he stays with St. Louis through the entirety of it and limits his injuries, it’s certainly a strong possibility.
If Parayko played in every possible game of his current contract without any shortened NHL seasons, he would reach 1,154 games. If he prevails around his 92.5% career attendance clip, he would still reach 1,105 games.
For perspective, Bernie Federko currently holds the record for most games played with the Blues at 927. Barret Jackman, who played in St. Louis from 2002-2015, is second all-time and first among defensemen with 803 games in a Blues uniform.
In theory, Parayko could pass Jackman in his fourth year of the new contract (this new one included) and Federko in his sixth year of the contract if his full health and 82-game schedules remain.
Given Parayko has dealt with some back issues as recently as 2021, it’s not a guarantee he’d reach elite territory that quickly. That said, he is coming off an 80-game campaign and has some promising trends working for him.
In non-pandemic shortened years, he has dressed in all but eight total possible games. Parayko also carried an iron-man streak of more than 100 consecutive games in between three seasons prior to winning his first Stanley Cup.
For now, Parayko hopes to keep building up his skillset as the games pile on to his career totals.
“Some things we work on obviously, but that’s that’s part of this game. Just work on it get better,” said Parayko after Saturday’s season opener.
Also worth following in the games played territory, Parayko’s longtime teammate Robert Bortuzzo is nine games away from 500 in his career and Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly is 61 away from 1,000 career NHL games. Unlike Parayko, not all of those games for Bortuzzo and O’Reilly have been with the Blues.