St. Louis Blues defenceman Colton Parayko returned to North America with a silver medal from the 2017 IIHF World Championships and recognition of an all-star performance.
Team Canada finished with a silver medal after a 2-1 shootout loss to Sweden in the gold medal game on Sunday in Cologne, Germany. Parayko, a product of St. Albert minor hockey, was named to the tournament all-star team.
“It was a really great experience,” said Parayko. “Any time you get the chance to represent your country and play with that calibre of players, it’s always a good opportunity.”
In six games at the world championships, Parayko scored three goals and four assists. Parayko also played in last year’s World Cup of Hockey playing for the U23 Team North America and played for Team Canada West in the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, while playing junior hockey for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
The 24-year-old blueliner added he’d jump at the chance to play in the world championships again.
“It was a great experience and considering we never won, I still want to win it.”
Parayko, in his second season with the Blues, finished the year with 35 points in 81 games, good for eighth on the team. The six-foot-six, 226 pound rearguard also added two goals and three assists in 11 games in the playoffs before the Blues were eliminated by the Nashville Predators.
The Paul Kane High School alumnus said he was pleased with his performance this season and his improvement.
“I want to continue working hard and working to get better,” he said. “You have the ups and downs during the year, but I think we had a good group of guys and I got to learn a lot.”
The 86th overall pick of the Blues in the 2012 NHL entry draft plans to spend most of his off season in St. Louis, though he’ll spend about a month home in Alberta. Parayko is a restricted free agent this off season, but said he won’t worry too much about the contract talks and just worry about improving his overall game.
“I just want to approach everything professionally and the right way and do the best I can with those things.”
The Blues finished third in the Central Division this season, but went on a 22-8-2 run after Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock as the team’s head coach. Parayko said he’s optimistic for next season and thinks Blues have an opportunity to be one of the NHL’s top teams.
“We’ve got a good group and I like our chances,” he said. “I think we going to keep going forward and I’m excited to see what we’ll do.”