ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen will make his preseason debut Wednesday against the Washington Capitals at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Steen had surgery on his left shoulder June 3 and was expected to be re-evaluated in 16 weeks. But he's progressed faster than anticipated. It appeared Steen would be ready for the regular-season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 12. Instead, he's playing a week earlier.
"Basically I feel like I've been well enough the last little bit to try," said Steen, who said he made the decision to play on Tuesday. "I didn't want to go out there too early. Early in training camp I kind of had time on my side and didn't want to push it too fast. Yesterday, I just made the decision that I wanted to get out of practice and into some games."
Steen, 32, injured his shoulder Feb. 20 against the Arizona Coyotes and missed 15 games. He came back for the final six games of the regular season and then had 10 points in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He had 17 goals and 35 assists in 67 regular-season games, and signed a four-year, $23 million contract extension Sept. 23.
"I came here [after the World Cup of Hockey 2016] and he didn't miss a beat," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said of Steen. "He looks pretty good to me. It's obviously how he feels, but it looks like he's up to speed, ready to go. It's always good when you get a guy like that back. We didn't really know when he was going to come back. But anytime you get him back earlier than expected, it's great news for him."
Steen's potential availability for the start of the regular season helps to offset the absence of left wing Jaden Schwartz, who is expected to miss a month because of a left elbow injury sustained Sept. 29.
"He's a big-time player, a big-time player in this League and for our team," Pietrangelo said of Steen. "He plays big minutes, plays in all situations. We're going to need him obviously throughout the season."