Alexander Steen has undergone shoulder surgery, and it sounds like Team Sweden will need to name at least one replacement player for the upcoming World Cup. There’s also a possibility the St. Louis Blues could be without one of their top-line wingers to start the 2016-17 season.
According to the Blues, Steen will be re-evaluated in sixteen weeks after the successful surgery, but the timeline for his return is anywhere from 4-6 months. That sets Steen’s earliest return date at Oct. 3, two days after the conclusion of the World Cup, and puts his return for the start of the upcoming campaign in jeopardy.
“Alexander suffered the original shoulder injury in Feb. 20 in Arizona,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in a release. “He rehabbed and worked hard to get back and be a big part in the team’s run to the Conference Final. Alex is one of the most dedicated players in the NHL when it comes to fitness and we’re thrilled things went well today.”
Following the initial injury, Steen, 32, missed 15 contests, but he was able to return with six games remaining in the season and played a major part during the Blues’ post-season run.
In the playoffs, Steen skated 21-plus minutes per game, scored four goals and 10 points and was tasked with playing top minutes against top competition, this coming after a fantastic regular season during which Steen averaged more than 20-plus minutes per game, notched 17 goals and 52 points while being one of the most relied upon two-way wingers in the league. That he fell injured shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though. Steen’s injury this past season marked the seventh-straight season he was forced to miss eight-plus games.
The four-month minimum timeline for return doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll miss any time in the upcoming season, however. Steen could very well be back in time for opening night in the campaign, but the same can’t be said for the World Cup. The surgery almost assuredly means Sweden will be forced to replace Steen, who was part of their initial 16-player roster, before the tournament begins.
Offensively, that shouldn’t post a major issue for the Swedish club. Among the players who were left off of the Swedish roster are Gustav Nyquist, Mika Zibanejab, Rickard Rakell and Mikael Backlund. Each of those forwards could potentially replicate Steen’s offensive contributions, though the two-way play is going to be hard to replace.
Sweden will be asked to find someone to step into Steen’s place before the tournament begins in mid-September, though. And while Sweden may have a plethora of options to fill his spot, the same can’t be said for the Blues. St. Louis will absolutely be hoping it’s a four-month absence and nothing more for Steen.