Alexander Steen’s off-season shoulder surgery has already put the Blues winger out of the World Cup, but St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong isn’t expecting the injury to cost Steen much playing time when the regular season rolls around.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, Armstrong said Steen, 32, “pushed very hard” to be ready for the international tournament, but he simply couldn’t get fit in time to take part in the World Cup. The nature of his injury and the recovery time was such that Steen’s first re-evaluation post-surgery will come Oct. 3, Armstrong said, which is only days before the start of the tournament.
But it’s not all bad news because Steen’s off-season work and rehabbing of his shoulder in an attempt to play at the World Cup could bode well for his ability to suit up when the Blues open their season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 12.
"We're still quite a ways from camp, but I would think he'll jump right into the flow drills — that's the idea now," Armstrong told Rutherford. "But we're not going to be penny-wise, pound-foolish. Whether he participates in battle drills in early September or mid-September, I'm not that concerned about. (But) he looks like he's in great shape, he's ahead of schedule and we're hoping that he's ready for Game 1. If not Game 1, very early in the season, but all things are very positive.”
Having Steen back to start the campaign would be a huge help for the Blues, especially in a division that will undoubtedly be separated by only a handful of points by season’s end. If St. Louis wants favorable standing in the Central Division, having a full roster for the entire season is their best chance at finishing with home-ice advantage in the first round of the post-season.
Steen is a key cog in the Blues top six and an incredibly versatile winger for the club. He netted 17 goals and 52 points in the 67 contests he suited up for in 2015-16, and that’s not to mention he’s one of the better defensive wingers in the league, too.
There’s no doubt the hope amongst the Blues and their faithful that Steen’s injury is recovered by the time the season starts because they don’t want to go through an injury situation similar to the one they dealt with during the past season. Almost throughout the entire past season, St. Louis was without at least one key player and didn’t manage to have an entirely healthy lineup until the first game of the playoffs.
The only Blue to play all 82 games in 2015-16 was Troy Brouwer — now a member of the Calgary Flames — and each of Steen, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Robby Fabbri, Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund and goaltender Jake Allen missed at least nine games due to injury this past season.
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