HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Alexander Steen admittedly would rather be representing Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. But the St. Louis Blues left wing understands making sure his surgically repaired dislocated left shoulder is completely healed in time for the start of the NHL regular season on Oct. 12.
After surgery on June 3, Steen was diagnosed to be re-evaluated in four months, which would put him at Oct. 3. He has been taking part in the Blues' unofficial team skates, and things look good for him to be in the lineup when St. Louis plays the Chicago Blackhawks on opening night.
"I feel great," Steen said this week. "I made a push to try and make the Worlds and just ran out of time. I wish I had 10 days, two more weeks, but after that, I put myself in a good situation now where I can kind of not slow things down, but now I'm able to read the shoulder a little bit more and see where I'm at every day.
"Sometimes I have the luxury now of giving it a little rest and going back at it the next day and kind of taking it as it comes. But not going to the World Cup, it gave me another almost seven weeks until the season starts. I've got time on my side now."
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Steen, 32, was injured on Feb. 20 when he was checked by Arizona Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton and missed 15 games before returning late in the regular season to help the Blues to Stanley Cup Playoff series victories against the Blackhawks and Dallas Stars, prior to a six-game loss to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.
But it was evident Steen, who had 52 points (17 goals, 35 assists) in 67 regular-season games before scoring four goals and six assists in 20 playoff games, wasn't 100 percent when he returned from injury, and it limited his ability to play at a high level.
"We knew pretty much when it happened that [playing] was a risk," Steen said. "And then we pretty much found out the next day doing all the testing and MRIs and stuff that surgery was a must in the summer. I knew that after the season that [surgery] was going to happen and then it was just kind of a race against time there to get it to a point where I could get back and help out in the playoffs.
"There was obviously some [risk returning without surgery], but once we had discussed all the different options and what we were going to do, we kind of made a decision and then started rehabbing. I got to work with a few different people and kind of got it up to where it was good for the playoffs. But it was frustrating. There were certain situations in the game where you feel like you're not getting everything out that you're wanting to or certain situations where you're a little limited."
Steen is skating freely and without restriction. The Blues are taking part in mostly non-contact scrimmages, but absorbing contact will be the true test for his shoulder.
"Yeah, but you saw out there, I'm not hesitant or anything like that," Steen said. "The contact part will come. I have a month to go until the season."
Steen, who has played seven-plus seasons in St. Louis after being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, is beginning the final season of a three-year, $17.4 million contract. He has not made any demands to negotiate an extension before the season starts but has made it clear his objective is to remain with the Blues.
"Obviously I want to stay in St. Louis, but I have another year left on my contract, so I'm not stressing about anything," said Steen, who signed his contract midway through the 2013-14 season. "When I signed this deal, I knew it was a three-year contract and I've played two, so I'm kind of approaching it as I've got one more year on that deal.
"But I know the business of the game and we'll see if we get talking about something, but for right now, the focus has mainly been on the shoulder and getting it to where I want it to be and then gathering the group again.
"Everybody's showed up here in the last week and a half, and getting back into the groove of things. There hasn't been much focus [on the contract] other than [the media] asking me about it."