Armstrong won’t keep Steen, Elliott on LTIR for cap space

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Blues GM Doug Armstrong has no plans to keep Alex Steen and Brian Elliott on long-term injured reserve until the end of the regular season, even though doing that could free up cap space to add players prior to Monday’s trade deadline.

“We want to get them back as quick as possible,” Armstrong told reporters yesterday (video). “I want to get Steen playing — and he wants to play — so if and when we make the playoffs he’s going to be up to form.

“Same with Elliott. He’s probably the best goaltender, statistically, over the last two months. We don’t want his first game back to be a playoff game, with six or seven weeks off.”

Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks kept Patrick Kane on LTIR until the postseason. He broke his clavicle Feb. 24; his first game back was Game 1 of the first round against Nashville on Apr. 15. In between, the ‘Hawks were able to add Kimmo Timonen, Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins.

Chicago, of course, went on the win the Stanley Cup.

Armstrong was asked if he thought the Blues — if they don’t add at the deadline, but if they can get healthy by the playoffs — were a contender.

His reply was cautiously optimistic.

“The reality is you get to the playoffs and you need health, and you need your good players to play well,” he said. “But you have to go through a murderers’ row here in the Central, that’s just the reality of it.”

St. Louis has lost three straight years in the first round, so Armstrong is quite familiar with that reality.

Related: ‘Let’s live to fight another day’