CALGARY, Alberta • The Blues have placed veteran forward Alexander Steen on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. He will be evaluated in four weeks, the team announced Thursday.
Steen suffered the injury late in the second period of Wednesday’s 5-2 victory in Edmonton, falling awkwardly after a collision with Oilers forward Alex Chiasson. Steen had to be helped off the ice, favoring his left leg. Steen did not accompany the team to Calgary, returning to St. Louis.
He has played in all 17 games with the Blues this season, with no goals and five assists. He’s plus-2.
When Ivan Barbashev scored an empty-net goal with 33 seconds left in regulation against the Oilers, it made Steen the only forward on the team without a goal this season. He has been a reliable 15-to-20 goal scorer throughout his long career, scoring as many as 33 goals during the 2013-14 season.
But as his career winds down, his goal and point totals have decreased each of the past four seasons. This is Steen’s 15th NHL season and at age 35 he’s the second-oldest player on the team, five months younger than defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, 36.
Even so, Steen remains an important glue player and a team leader as an alternate captain.
“He’s a leader of this group,” goalie Jake Allen said following the Edmonton game. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. Longest-tenured guy on this team and keeps this whole locker room together.
“So it’d be a tough loss but we’re hoping that it’s nothing serious. If it is, then we’ll have guys to step up just like we are for the loss of Vladi.”
Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues’ other alternate captain entering this season, will miss at least five months following left shoulder surgery Oct. 29.
Steen has played nine of 17 games this season on the third line (centered by Tyler Bozak). He spent five games on the fourth line (centered by both Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist) and three on the second line (centered by Ryan O’Reilly).
Steen is fourth on the team in blocked shots (21), but more importantly is one of the Blues’ top penalty-killers. Other than Robert Bortuzzo, who has played in only seven games, Steen has spent the most time on the ice in shorthanded situations among Blues skaters, averaging 2 minutes 53 seconds per game.
His injury leaves the Blues with no extra forwards, and that’s including Jacob de la Rose, who was acquired from Detroit for Robby Fabbri on Wednesday. The Blues, who don’t play the Flames until Saturday, have announced no callup from San Antonio at this time.
The injury will delay Steen's pursuit of 1,000 career games. Including his time with Toronto, which drafted him 24th overall in 2002, Steen has played in 980 regular-season games in the NHL.
The Edmonton game was No. 727 with the Blues, tying him with David Backes for fifth on the team's career list.