It’s a far cry from Kane, Fox, Matthews and Helleybuck, that’s for sure.
USA Hockey unveiled its roster for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Thursday, bringing along a whopping 15 college players from the NCAA. It means the team will feature a lot of big-game inexperience, but most of them have experience with USA in some capacity already.
But what about among the other 10 players? Defenseman David Warsofksy is the most experienced player at the men’s World Championship level of the three that have played, having played 10 games at the 2016 tournament. So this is a fairly fresh team that many don’t expect to challenge for gold.
That’s the fun of it, though. That’s exactly what happened in 1980 during the famous Miracle on Ice game against the Soviets. USA brought a much more veteran-laden lineup in 2018 and it didn’t work. So why not shake things up?
But that doesn’t mean the veterans aren’t worth noting. Ryan Kennedy looked at the NHL-drafted prospects to watch in the American lineup already, so let’s look at which five veterans you’ll want to keep an eye on during the Olympics:
Brian O’Neill, F
One of the few returning players from the 2018 team, O’Neill has managed to take his stock up a notch in the years since. O’Neill had 58 points in 2018-19 and has hovered around the 50-point mark in the two years since, with O’Neill currently sitting at 42 points in 41 games in his sixth year with KHL Jokerit. O’Neill was a stout AHLer at one point in time with the Manchester Monarchs but only had two assists in 22 games with the New Jersey Devils to show for before going overseas. With his second Olympic appearance on the horizon, he made a good choice pursuing a career in Finland. Plus, with four points in five gam
Strauss Mann, G
Mann doesn’t have any NHL experience, but he’s having one heck of a season in Sweden. After 13 games with Skelleftea AIK, Mann has a 9-4-0 record with three shutouts and an impressive .930 save percentage in his first year of pro hockey. Mann was the top goaltender in the NCAA’s Big 10 division in 2019-20 with an 18-13-4 record, six shutouts and a .939 save percentage. With the way Mann is playing, don’t be surprised if NHL teams come calling for his services once his SHL contract comes to a close at the end of the year.
Kenny Agostino, F
Agostino played parts of six seasons in the NHL, scoring a respectable 30 points in 86 games in a mainly minor role. But he wanted a chance to thrive on a competitive pro team outside of the NHL system, and he has done so with 40 points in 46 games with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. This will be Agostino’s first opportunity to make represent the United States internationally despite getting a two-game call-up to the US National Team Development Program in 2009-10. He’s going to do whatever it takes to make it count in a scoring role.
Andy Miele, F
Miele was once one of the game’s top college prospects thanks to a 71-point season in just 39 games with the University of Miami in 2010-11. That never translated into NHL success, and despite being a near point-per-game player for most of his AHL career, he has since found a solid home as one of the better Americans in the KHL. Miele has 36 points in 47 games with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod this year, good for third in team scoring behind Damir Zhafyarov and fellow American Kenny Agostino. Miele has experience with USA at the Deutschland Cup and the World Championship, so this isn’t completely unfamiliar territory for him, even if the stakes have never been higher.
Steven Kampfer, D
Jake Sanderson will definitely be a highlight of the blueline, but Kampfer is one of the more experienced NHL veterans on this team with 231 games played over parts of nine seasons, finally leaving North America to play with AK Bars Kazan. He’s been great there, currently sitting sith in scoring by a defenseman with 30 points and just three points behind Oliwer Kaski in second. Even though he was hardly a regular player in the NHL, Kampfer’s experience should factor in to the team’s goals and he’ll serve as a good mentor for the NCAA-heavy blueline.
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