Blues want long-term deal for Parayko, who will play at Worlds

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Blues GM Doug Armstrong met with the media today in the wake of his club’s season-ending playoff loss to Nashville and, unsurprisingly, Colton Parayko was a significant topic of discussion.

Just hours after Hockey Canada announced Parayko would join the club at the World Hockey Championship, Armstrong said St. Louis would like to get the RFA blueliner signed to a long-term deal, calling him a “cornerstone player.”

Parayko, 23, has blossomed into one of the NHL’s best young d-man prospects since breaking into the league. He finished eighth in Calder voting as a rookie — on the strength of a nine-goal, 33-point campaign — and forged out an even bigger role for the Blues this year, scoring 35 points in 81 games while averaging 21:12 TOI per night.

He was leaned upon heavily in the playoffs. Head coach Mike Yeo upped Parayko’s ice time to 23:44 a night, behind only Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Parayko responded by putting up five points in 11 games.

This all makes for a pretty intriguing offseason. Parayko will suit up for Canada despite not being under contract — always a dicey proposition — and he’s in line for a big ol’ raise.

Parayko just wrapped the last of a two-year, entry-level deal that carried a minuscule $858,750 cap hit. Undoubtedly, that figure will go up significantly with his extension.

In terms of comparables, Parayko could be eyeing the six-year, $30 million deal Toronto’s Morgan Rielly scored coming off his ELC, or perhaps the six-year, $31.5 million extension Hampus Lindholm inked in Anaheim. All three defensemen are 23 years old and were taken at the 2012 draft, though Rielly and Lindholm have logged over 300 games at the NHL level (Parayko’s at 160).

St. Louis currently has four blueliners under contract through 2019: Robert Bortuzzo, Carl Gunnarsson, Jay Bouwmeester and captain Alex Pietrangelo, who is signed through 2020. Next summer, Armstrong will need to extend another of the club’s talented young d-men — Joel Edmundson, who goes restricted in 2018.