USA Hockey has named the 25 players on its roster that will be competing in men’s ice hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Of the 25 players, 15 are current NCAA athletes, five play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), two play in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), two are in the American Hockey League (AHL) and one is in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), making it a mix of both veteran ex-NHLers and rising prospects.
Brian O’Neill is the only returning player from the 2018 team that finished seventh, losing in the quarterfinals to the Czech Republic. He currently is one of the Americans playing in the KHL, leading all American skaters in points with 42. In fact, the top four American point scorers in the KHL — O’Neill, Ken Agostino, Andy Miele and Steven Kampfer — are all heading to Beijing. Nick Shore is the other American from the KHL and he sits in seventh among U.S. skaters in points.
All five players have previous NHL experience, with Agostino and Kampfer both being in the league just last season.
There are 13 NHL draft picks among the 15 college athletes and three of them are first-round selections — University of Michigan’s Matty Beniers (No. 2 in 2022 to the Seattle Kraken), University of North Dakota’s Jake Sanderson (No. 5 in 2020 to the Ottawa Senators) and University of Michigan’s Brendan Brisson (No. 29 in 2020 to the Vegas Golden Knights).
Beniers, Sanderson, Boston University’s Drew Commesso (drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks), University of Minnesota’s Brock Faber (drafted by the Los Angeles Kings) and Matthew Knies (drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs) were all on the 2022 United States World Junior Championship team that competed this past December before their tournament was canceled due to COVID. Brisson and Boston College’s Drew Helleson (drafted by the Colorado Avalanche) were members of the 2021 team.
The U.S. Olympic team boasts three of the top five point-per-game players in college hockey. Harvard University’s Nick Abruzzese (Maple Leafs pick) leads the nation with 1.62 points per game, Minnesota State University-Mankato’s Nathan Smith (Winnipeg Jets pick) is third sitting at 1.50 and Harvard’s Sean Farrell (Montreal Canadiens pick) is fifth, producing 1.46 points per game. Smith is the nation’s leader in total points with 33.
St. Cloud State University’s Nick Perbix is a draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning while his collegiate teammate Sam Hentges is a draft pick of the Minnesota Wild. University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Noah Cates was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Boston College’s Marc McLaughlin and University of Minnesota’s Ben Meyers are both regarded as top undrafted college free agents.
From the SHL is Strauss Mann and Brian Cooper. Mann wrapped up a sensational collegiate career last year with the University of Michigan before signing with the SHL. Cooper bounced around in the minors from 2016 to 2019 before heading to Sweden in 2020.
Aaron Ness and Pat Nagle are both currently in the AHL. Ness plays for the Providence Bruins, the minor league affiliate of the Boston Bruins while Nagle is a goaltender for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the affiliate of the Flyers.
Rounding out the roster is the lone representative from the DEL, David Warsofsky. He played in the NHL and AHL from 2011 to 2020 before going over to Germany for this season.
USA Hockey and other competing countries were forced to look elsewhere to build their rosters with the NHL opting out of sending its players to the Olympics. This the second consecutive Winter Olympics without NHL participation.
The men’s ice hockey competition kicks off on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The U.S. will begin their preliminary play on Thursday, Feb. 10 against China.