Forward Alexander Steen expects to be ready when the St. Louis Blues open the NHL season against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Oct. 12.
Steen had surgery on his left shoulder June 3, nine days after the Blues were eliminated in six games by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.
"[The opener] seems like a realistic target, but we'll see how it reacts," Steen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday. "I haven't done much. These [practice] skates, there's not a lot of contact, so we'll see once we get a little bit of contact. But I think for sure I see myself playing in October."
Steen, 32, was injured after being hit by Arizona Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton on Feb. 20 and missed 15 games before returning late in the season. He had 17 goals and 52 points in 67 regular-season games, and 10 points in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Blues reach the conference final.
"It was just tough because it felt like you couldn't get everything out [of yourself] that you wanted to get out," Steen said. "There were situations in games where you felt like you could do more and it would just catch you. It was a little awkward to play with at times.
"So there were some frustrating days, but everyone was going through stuff and just pushing through. It was such a good atmosphere to be around I really didn't think about it until the season was over. And then I had to have the surgery, so that is when everything kind of sunk in. I did the best I could."
Steen was selected to Team Sweden for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 but the injury forced him to miss the tournament.
"I feel great, and it's a lot earlier than the doctors expected," Steen said. "Made a significant push to make the World Cup and I was extremely close, just ran out of time. I would have had to miss all of the [World Cup] preseason games and then jump right into the tournament. I was unsure of how the shoulder would react, so we made the decision to step away."
Steen can become an unrestricted free agent after this season and is hoping to remain in St. Louis beyond 2016-17.
"I want to be in St. Louis and the organization knows that," Steen said. "I'm sure we'll get to it when we get to it, so we're not stressed about it. Right now, the whole focus has been on the shoulder, getting that ready and getting the group back together again."