FAIRBANKS — A year ago, Colton Parayko was beginning the offseason after signing with the St. Louis Blues.
Instead of beginning his offseason this year, the former Alaska Nanooks defenseman is gearing up for the World Cup of Hockey.
Parayko was one of seven players added to the Team North America under-23 roster on Friday, completing the 23-man roster.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Parayko said by cellphone on Friday, two days after the Blues were eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.
“Obviously it’s a lot of world class players, a lot of great players,” Parayko continued. “To have the opportunity to play in a tournament like this is obviously only going to be beneficial and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Forwards Auston Matthews, Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay Lightning), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers) and Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) along with defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia Flyers) and Jacob Trouba (Jets) were also added to the Team North America roster.
Of the 23 players on Team North America, only two weren’t in the NHL last season. Matthews played with ZSC Lions in Switzerland last season while goalie Connor Hellebuyck was in the Americah Hockey League with the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets affiliate.
“I’ve played against them throughout the season but I’ve never played with any of those players yet,” Parayko said. “It’s going to be a whole new experience for myself.”
The World Cup is the second international competition Parayko has competed in. He took part in the World Junior A Challenge while playing with Canada West in 2011.
Current Nanooks senior Brandon Morley was also a part of that Canada West team that won the gold medal.
Team North America also features Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel, Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, Oilers forward Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray on the 23-man roster.
Along with Team North America, the World Cup of Hockey also features teams from Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Europe, USA and Canada.
Team Europe will consist of players not from the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and Russia.
The tournament runs Sept. 17-Oct. 1 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The teams will be split into two groups for pool play before the top two teams from each pool move on to the semifinals.
The winners of the semifinals will meet for a best-of-three championship series.
Team North America will be in Pool B with Russia, Finland and Sweden. Pool A consists of Canda, the Czech Republic, USA and Europe.
Parayko’s teammates Vladimir Tarasenko (Russia), Alexander Steen (Sweden), Jori Lehtera (Finland), David Backes (USA), Dmitrij Jaskin (Czech Republic) and Alex Pietrangelo (Canada) will also be playing in the tournament.
Parayko, listed at 6-foot-6, 226 pounds, scored nine goals with 24 assists for 33 points in 79 regular season games with the Blues. The native of St. Albert, Alberta, added two goals and five assists for seven points in 20 playoff games.
Parayko ranked fifth in the NHL with a plus/minus rating of plus-28 during the regular season.
Anchorage’s Brandon Dubinsky is on the Team USA roster.
Team North America will be coached by Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and Oilers general manager Peter Chiraelli selected the roster.
Moria elected to Hall of Fame
Former Nanooks forward Steve Moria has been elected to the British Hockey Hall of Fame.
Moria, the Nanooks all-time leading scorer, was one of two members of the Class of 2016. Tony Hand was elected.
Moria spent 25 years playing in Britain after his three seasons with the Nanooks. Moria played for nine teams during that time. He spent 10 seasons with the Cardiff Devils, who retired his jersey.
Moria was inducted into the Alaska Nanooks Hall of Fame in 2011.
Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow on Twitter: @FDNMSportsGuy.