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Alexander Steen could play in Blues opener: report

Forward expected to return from shoulder surgery early in season; Vladimir Sobotka also likely back @NHLdotcom

St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen is ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery and could play in the season opener, general manager Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday.

"He looks like he's in great shape, he's ahead of schedule, and we're hoping that he's ready for game one," Armstrong said. "If not game one, very early in the season, but all things are very positive."

Steen had surgery June 3, with an expected recovery time of 4-6 months. The Blues open the season Oct. 12 at the Chicago Blackhawks, four months and nine days after the surgery.

"We're not going to be penny-wise, pound-foolish," Armstrong said. "Whether he participates in battle drills in early September or mid-September (at training camp), I'm not that concerned about."

Steen had 17 goals and 35 assists (52 points) in 67 games last season, and an NHL career-high 64 points in 2014-15. The 32-year-old was chosen to play for Team Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 but was replaced on the roster Aug. 19 by Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell.

Armstrong also said forward Vladimir Sobotka will rejoin the Blues after playing for Team Czech Republic at the World Cup. Sobotka, 29, left the Blues after the 2013-14 season and has played the past two in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"[Sobotka] is getting ready for the World Cup," Armstrong said. "He's planning on staying here when that's over and coming back to our franchise. He's excited about it." 

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