St. Louis’ Steen has concussion setback, fails baseline test

Some more bad news for the St. Louis Blues on the concussion front.

Already without center Andy McDonald for most of the season (he’s been on IR with a concussion since Oct. 15) , the Blues have learned that third-leading scorer Alex Steen failed his concussion baseline test, according to FAN 590 Radio’s Andy Strickland. Steen’s been out with a concussion since Dec. 27 — a 3-2 loss to Detroit, in which he scored his 13th goal of the year — and missed St. Louis’ last three games.

Barring a rapid reversal in fortune and tests results, Steen will miss game No. 4 this Thursday when the Blues host the Oilers.

The injury is a big setback for both team and player. From a team perspective, the 27-year-old Swede has emerged as a versatile and valuable player, leading the Blues in plus-minus (+20) and second only to captain David Backes in terms of ice time for forwards. Steen also leads the team in even-strength goals and is a top penalty-killer.

From a player’s perspective, this looked to be Steen’s breakout campaign. He was on pace for a career-high 30 goals and appeared to be in good health, which hasn’t always been the case. His time in St. Louis has been marked by solid play, but a series of ailments have cost him 45 games over the last three years.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.