The United States Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team is established, with the final roster revealed earlier in the day. USA Hockey plans to rely more on college hockey players with a handful of experienced professionals, most with NHL experience, also dotting the lineup.
The United States is banking on young players on the cusp of an NHL career to be the ones who can carry the team against players who have already had a chance or are on the back nine in Europe. It’s a calculated risk, but one that’s likely guided by the success of the three college players who were regulars on the 2018 U.S. Olympic team – Troy Terry, Ryan Donato and Jordan Greenway. These three players were among the best in the United States. The problem was that there weren’t enough of them and the Americans only won two games in PyeongChang. Of the 11 goals they scored in the tournament, five came off Donato’s stick, with Terry picking up five assists.
The American roster is made up of 15 NCAA players, including five players from the KHL, two from the SHL, two from the AHL and one from the DEL. Thirteen of the 25 players were drafted by NHL teams, two more will be signed by NHL teams as undrafted free agents. Another, potential starting goaltender Strauss Mann, is a free agent who should have NHL looks due to his stellar play in Sweden. Many of these players will be on the way to NHL rosters at the end of the season.
The two most notable prospects are 2020 No. 5 overall pick Jake Sanderson (Ottawa Senators) and last year’s No. 2 pick Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken). Brendan Brisson (Vegas Golden Knights) is the team’s third and final first-round pick.
So who are these guys? We’ll take a look.
Drew Commesso, Boston University (CHI): He was supposed to be the No. 1 for the U.S. Junior Team this year and was a second-round pick by Chicago in 2020. Although his numbers are down this season, Commesso is a highly regarded young goaltender who is technically solid and who does not have to panic. in his game. His maturity has been praised by previous coaches and there’s a chance he could sneak a few starts for the Americans despite being just 19 years old.
Strauss Mann, Skelleftea: Having had an excellent season in the SHL (Sweden), Mann stood out in the NCAA the two previous seasons with Michigan. He hasn’t had a save percentage below .930 since he was a freshman and is at .930 in the SHL right now. It was a solid run for a goaltender who probably has the inside track to start with.
Pat Nagle, Ghosts of Lehigh Valley: The oldest statesman in net, Nagle has been a fellow goalkeeper in the minors. All-American at Ferris State, the 34-year-old enjoyed time in the AHL but primarily played in the ECHL, where he recorded 340 games with a career save percentage of .913 and a remarkable record of 198. -85-36. .
Brian Cooper, IK Oskarshamn: A former Nebraska Omaha captain and fifth-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2012, Cooper didn’t appear on the show, but he’s carved out a solid professional career for himself. He has nine points in 30 SHL games this season.
Brock Faber, Minnesota (LAK): A second-round pick who surpassed his draft status is a top two-way defenseman who was on the last two U.S. teams at World Juniors, winning gold in 2021. Faber’s skating is a huge strength, but his hockey sense is what makes him one of college hockey’s elite defensemen.
Drew Helleson, Boston College (COL): The unsung hero of the 2021 USA World Junior Team, Helleson has shown this season that there is more offense in his game as he has taken the puck on the ice a lot more for Boston College.
Steven Kampfer, Ak Bars Kazan: With 30 points in 46 KHL games, going overseas has brought out the best in the 33-year-old’s game. He is a 231-game NHL veteran and was a black ace with the Boston Bruins in their Stanley Cup season in 2011.
Aaron Ness, Providence Bruins: The New York Islanders’ only second-round pick in 2008, Ness played in 72 total NHL games. He spent most of his professional career in the AHL, where he appeared in 561 AHL games and had 267 points in defense. It will be his first national team appearance since playing at the U18 Worlds in 2008.
Nick Perbix, State of St Cloud (TBL): A great two-way defenseman, Perbix lacks international experience but has been a consistent presence for St. Cloud State, which has been one of the best programs in the nation for the past half-decade.
Jake Sanderson, North Dakota (OTT): He may only be 19, but there are good reasons why Sanderson is the best defender on this team. He captained the most recent USA World Junior Team that failed to make it and could now be number one against the pros. An elite skater, Sanderson’s offensive game has taken off this season to go along with his already top-notch defensive abilities.
David Warsofsky, Ingolstadt: Now in Europe after spending most of his career in North America, Warsofsky has 476 AHL games under his belt, including 55 in the NHL. He wore the United States jersey at several levels, including the Men’s World Championship, the World Juniors and the World U18.
Nick Abruzzese, Harvard (TOR): A quick and sneaky forward who missed all of last season with Harvard’s Athletics shutdown during the pandemic, Abruzzese has been on fire this year with 21 points in just 13 games. He averaged 1.48 points per game during his college career.
Kenny Agostino, Torpedo: An 86-game NHL veteran, Agostino spent a lot of time in the AHL where he was a very productive player with 317 career points. He took his talents to Russia this year and has 40 points in 46 games.
Matty Beniers, Michigan (SEA): The No. 2 pick in last year’s draft and the Seattle Kraken’s first-ever pick, Beniers has been a two-way mainstay for the Americans at various levels. He was alternate captain for the last WJC team, won gold the previous year and also played in the Men’s World Championship last year to help the United States win bronze.
Brendan Brisson, Michigan (VGK): A top scorer in college hockey, Brisson has scored 14 goals in 23 games so far this season. He was on the World Juniors team last year and was a first-round pick in 2020. He also set a record for most points by an American player at the World Junior A Challenge in 2019.
Noah Cates, Minnesota Duluth (PHI): A national champion with UMD, Cates is a tough forward who can be physical and handle the best of them. The Flyers’ draft pick is one of the college’s top six players, but he could be bottom of the roster here. He won the silver medal at the 2019 World Juniors in Vancouver and surprised many when he decided to return to college hockey for another year.
Sean Farrell, Harvard (MTL): A quick forward who makes up for a lack of size with incredible tenacity, Farrell was the USHL MVP last season before heading to Harvard, delayed a year by the pandemic. He was one of Crimson’s top producers and was part of the U18 team led by Jack Hughes, Cole Caufield and Trevor Zegras just a few years ago.
Sam Hentges, St Cloud State (MIN): A skilled striker who can be creative and make a few plays, Hentges has been a solid performer at St. Cloud where he has been a key striker. He has nine points in seven games so far this season.
Matthew Knies, Minnesota (TOR): One of the youngest players on Team USA, Knies was drafted in 2021 in the second round, but quickly showed it might have been a little late. The huge power forward has an excellent combination of size and skill that allowed him to dominate as a true freshman. He is a necessary part of the forward attack of the United States.
Marc McLaughlin, Boston College (UFA): A defensive back who happens to be averaging a point per game over the past two college hockey seasons, McLaughlin is the reigning defensive forward of the year in Hockey East. He served as captain for two years at Boston College and is lauded for his incredible character and work ethic. He should be a PK, crushing item for USA in this tournament.
Ben Meyers, Minnesota (UFA): Arguably the most sought-after free agent in college hockey this season, Meyers is a tenacious forward who plays the forecheck as well as anyone. NHL teams also love the speed and offense he brings to the table. He’s produced everywhere he’s gone, but has escaped the draft multiple times. He may be able to choose his team of choice in the offseason as a free agent.
Andy Miele, Roadster: The 2011 Hobey Baker winner was a star player at the AHL level, but only managed 15 NHL games. Miele, undersized but highly skilled, found a second life in Europe, where it was a premium producer. He’s played three of the last four years in the KHL, tallying 112 points in 163 games and is now a teammate with fellow Olympian Kenny Agostino.
Brian O’Neill, Jokerit: The only returning player from the 2018 Olympics, O’Neill was the only non-NCAA player to have more than two points in PyeongChang. He was third on the team with four points. With Jokerit since 2016-17, he is one of the best Americans to ever play in the KHL. He has 268 points in 311 games in the KHL, including 42 in 41 this season. He appeared in 22 games in the NHL.
Nick Shore, Novosibirsk: A 299-game NHL veteran, Shore has been a top two-way forward for most of his career. He is currently playing in the KHL, his second stint in the league, and already has 25 points in 48 games. He won an U18 world gold medal in 2010, which was the last time he suited up for the USA team.
Nathan Smith, Minnesota State (WPG): A first international opportunity for Smith, the Minnesota State center has been one of college hockey’s best players this season and could be in contention for the Hobey Baker. Smith has 27 points in 21 games and if he doesn’t sign with Winnipeg, many teams will be interested. His game grew a ton during his college career.