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Friedman: Blues’ Colton Parayko should be the #1 trade target for Maple Leafs

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Photo credit:Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
During the Maple Leafs/Blues Family Day broadcast, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman had an interesting take when asked who he felt the Leafs #1 trade target should be. Sure enough, with the Leafs once again facing off against the Blues, Friedman mentioned Blues’ defenseman Colton Parayko.
Parayko, originally from Alberta, has been linked to Brad Treliving run teams in the past and is used to hearing his name being ‘out there’ this time of year. The Blues signed the 6-foot-6 blueliner back in 2021 to an eight-year $52 million extension, and it seems like each and every season, his name is scattered throughout trade speculation.
Friedman sees Parayko, a right-handed shot, and someone who can check a lot of boxes in Toronto. While that’s certainly the case, there’s many more layers to uncover on this onion, including his $6.5 million average annual value through the 2029-30 season, a season where Parayko would be 36 years old.
The Blues are considering re-tooling on the fly as GM Doug Armstrong has already changed coaches this season and now with his team barely hanging onto the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference, could look to cash in on some of his trade assets. Moving Parayko and his salary could give Armstrong a chance to move some resources up front and find some more scoring for a team that’s 24th in the NHL in goals per game.

Lots of Risk Involved Adding Parayko

First and foremost, the cost would be significant as Parayko is signed long term and having himself a decent season in St Louis. The Leafs’ 2024 first-round pick would be in play, along with likely one roster player and likely top defensive prospect Topi Niemela, who keeps getting looked over when the Leafs are recalling defensemen this season. The Leafs have used 11 d-men after dressing Marshall Rifai against the Blues, meanwhile Niemela hasn’t been given the shoulder tap just yet.
Parayko hasn’t looked great in the two recent games against the Leafs, often times losing foot races and easily getting pushed off the puck for a man 6-foot-6 and over 230 pounds. On the year the numbers have been decent though, recording 21 points in 55 games and killing a ton of penalties for the Blues. Parayko’s also recorded 103 shots, 68 hits and a team-leading 140 blocked shots, which is sixth best in the entire NHL.
While the Leafs could use a big frame to help clear out the front of the net, another right-handed shot d-man, and some more offense from their back end, Parayko’s game has some holes. Prime example, what is he thinking here letting Bobby McMann walk in basically untouched but a lousy poke check?
Sure, you have to take the good with the bad, but there was also Monday’s game where Matthew Knies walked Parayko and sniped a beauty top shelve. If Treliving was considering the deal, the decision hasn’t become easier after the last two performances against his hockey club.
However, there is a lot of things to like about the Maple Leafs adding Parayko. It gives them a legit top-four righty for the foreseeable future, a Cup winner and helps balance things out nicely on Toronto’s blue line, allowing for Keefe to properly align some folks who are currently playing too high on the depth chart. Parayko’s not afraid to sacrifice his body to win, he’s a better/faster skater than he’s given credit for, and he’s battled tested, playing in 82 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, registering 10 goals and 32 points. He’s on pace for a career high in goals which is a good sign considering his age and with an absolute bomb on the blueline, it would be a nice addition to the Leafs’ weaponry.
One other thing to consider here, Parayko’s no-trade clause. To this point, it hasn’t been reported the Blues have approached him about an approval list, but surely when/if it does happen, the trade buzz is going to pick up in a major way and expect to see Treliving and the Maple Leafs kicking tires.
Adding Parayko would give Toronto a different look on the blue line and bring in someone who can play in all situations, log heavy minutes and a player who has experience winning when games matter the most. The contract isn’t ideal, but it could be worth the risk. Treliving would be wise to get involved and at least see what Armstrong is looking for in return. If the price tag is too expensive, move on, don’t overpay and try and find another blueliner who is going to move the needle for the Maple Leafs.
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