Here’s the reported Blues-Parayko contract divide with arbitration looming

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Plenty of NHL teams have dealt with looming salary arbitration hearings, but one big name remaining – literally and figuratively – is St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko.

He’s slated for a July 20 hearing, so time is limited.

On the bright side, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports a divide that seems pretty moderate.

Blues offer at the moment, via Friedman: two years, $3.5 million average.

Parayko’s current ask, according to Friedman: one year, $4.85 million.

Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland backed up Friedman’s report, and also noted that he expects the two sides to hammer something out before a hearing would take place on Thursday.

That’s not a large money difference, and really, one year in term isn’t a massive disagreement, either.

But allow an observation: should the Blues try to buy up some UFA years for Parayko before he (possibly) blossoms into a star?

The 24-year-old boasts impressive size and a booming shot, and with a full season up the depth chart with Kevin Shattenkirk out of town, Parayko could really start to pile up the sort of numbers that land defensemen big contracts.

He’s an analytics darling, too, not something to take lightly for a larger player:

Players who check just about every box aren’t that easy to find, particularly on the blueline. The Blues might just regret a “bridge” deal with Parayko, whether it’s for one or two seasons.

The Blues don’t have a ton of defensemen locked up for long-term, either. Alex Pietrangelo possesses the longest-running contract on their blueline so far, and his only lasts for three more seasons. Parayko might be the guy to invest in.

Here’s some optimism to close things out: the Blues are likely to get a bargain, one way or another. It’s most likely a question of how long they’ll be able to enjoy good value with a rising defenseman.

Related: The Blues showed interest in signing him long-term in May ; perhaps Parayko is only interested in a bridge deal, anyway?