Flyers Should Trade For Colton Parayko

The St. Louis Blues are in the middle of a fire sale as their Cup window has come to a close and they’re getting a head start on a potential rebuild. With Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly already shipped out of town, rumors about who may be next begin to swirl. For the Flyers, picking the bones of teams selling could be a smart approach since they themselves refuse to ever go down the seller avenue, and there’s one player that could draw their interest and it’s defenseman Colton Parayko.

Parayko, the soon-to-be 30-year-old, 6’6, 230lb right handed defenseman is in the first year of his eight-year, $52 million extension ($6.5 million AAV).

The Flyers have been on an endless hunt for a top pair right handed defenseman for well over a decade now, a search that Chuck Fletcher has tried to address time and time again with minimal successful results. He took a swing at Tony DeAngelo last summer in an experiment that just hasn’t worked, and thus may have no choice but to test the market again, and that could lead to Parayko.

Earlier in his career, Parayko was a borderline elite two-way defenseman who has turned into a defensive defenseman after a back injury sustained midway through the 2020-21 season. He still tends to hover around the 30-point mark with very little of his production happening on the powerplay despite still having a spot on the second unit.

Most consider him a second pair player these days despite seeing top line minutes with the Blues this season. While that could all come down to deployment and strength of partner, that’s a trap the Flyers have fallen into over the last few offseasons with DeAngelo and Rasmus Ristolainen.

DeAngelo was a passable top pair player last season on a stingy Carolina team while partnered with Jaccob Slavin, results he just couldn’t replicate with Ivan Provorov on a dumpster fire defensive unit like Philly. Ristolainen saw his minutes cut quite a bit during his time as a Flyer compared to his days with the Sabres, with the idea that his overall play would improve. While that does tend to be true, it hasn’t gone full circle to elevate him back to a proper top pair player. Can Parayko still succeed as a top pair guy, or will the Flyers pay top pair price for someone who settles in on the second pair?

If the Flyers so choose to search the league for another right-handed defenseman, the market is once again relatively slim. John Klingberg, who has fallen from grace, Matt Dumba, who’s declined quite a bit this season, 35-year-old Erik Johnson and Damon Severson, a similar player to Ristolainen, highlight the free agent class this season. Erik Karlsson and Colton Parayko are the only two notable RHDs potentially available via trade right now, both of whom could be moved by the trade deadline.

RHD isn’t the only potential makeover the Flyers’ blueline could undergo this summer. They’ll more than likely explore the avenue of trading Ivan Provorov and coronating Cam York the new number one left-handed defenseman. If that’s the case it will be absolutely critical that the team finds him a worthwhile partner to play with to avoid setting him up for failure the way they did with Provorov all those years ago when he was strapped to Andrew MacDonald for most of his early career.

If the Flyers don’t trade Provorov and keep him together with York (who’s playing on his off-side in this scenario) Parayko could serve as the second pair RHD in an effort to find a partner to rehab Travis Sanheim, who has struggled mightily after signing his eight-year extension on opening night. With that kind of investment long term, taking a risk on Parayko, who, at this point, would also be a long-term investment could work out well… or just make everything worse.

If they keep Provorov’s $6.7 cap hit, plus Sanheim’s new $6.2 then add Parayko’s $6.5 just to bump Ristolainen’s $5.1 to the third pair and it’s a very expensive defensive unit that may not be able to collectively turn itself around.

These are the potential pairs that could result from acquiring Parayko based on whether or not Provorov gets dealt.

Provorov – York

Sanheim – Parayko

Zamula/Seeler – Attard/Ristolainen


York – Parayko

Sanheim – Ristolainen

Zamula/Seeler – Attard

Keeping Provorov gives them choices with York to play on either the right or left side, a built in fallback option if Parayko couldn’t succeed as a legitimate top pair guy. Though if Provorov is gone, York would play alongside Parayko, a pair that is definitely intriguing though opens many questions about their ability to handle top pair minutes.

At the end of the day, the Flyers may not have an abundance of choice when it comes to picking a new RHD for the team, but the pressure to add in an unfavorable market is how they ended up with someone like Tony DeAngelo to begin with. If the trade value for Parayko dips low enough, a real possibility considering the length of that contract, it’s an option they might have to explore. A $6.5 cap hit isn’t too egregious, it’s more the fact he’s got seven more years left that leads to the major hesitation.

The defense could potentially look very different going into next season with the futures of Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo up in the air. A full makeover could not only mean Parayko is on their radar, but he could fit in nicely if the rest of the defense gets properly insulated as well. One of the few things Fletcher hasn’t been afraid to do is spending assets on potential solutions at RHD, and Colton Parayko could very well be the next man up in the endless pursuit of stabilizing the defense.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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