With the NHL once again not allowing its players to compete in the Winter Olympics, the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team won't house nearly as much star power as it would if NHLers were competing. Still, there are a number of key players to keep an eye on when the men's competition begins in February. Many of them are young up-and-comers, and others are former NHL players hoping to prove that they still belong in the top hockey league in the world.

Matty Beniers, C

Beniers is likely the odds-on favorite to become a household name at the Olympics. He was drafted No. 2 overall by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and has already earned some acclaim after helping the U.S. win gold at the 2021 World Junior Championship. At just 19 years old, he's the youngest player named to the Olympic roster.

The Hingham, Massachusetts native has been a dominant force at the collegiate level. At the University of Michigan, Beniers has registered 24 goals and 54 total points in 48 games as a Wolverine. He's been particularly strong this season, logging 14 goals and 30 points in just 24 contests.

Named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team last season, Beniers is known for his strong two-way play. He may not light up the scoreboard at the Olympics, but he will certainly be heavily involved in all facets of the game.

Drew Commesso, G

Commesso is the youngest goalie on the roster, but he may also have the highest upside. The 19-year-old was selected in the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks — the second goalie taken off the board — and has seen a lot of action as Boston University's primary backstop. He has played 20 games for the Terriers this season, earning a 9-7-3 record along with a 2.59 goals against average and .909 save percentage.

It is unclear if Commesso will serve as the No. 1 goalie for the U.S. when the Olympics begin — Strauss Mann and Pat Nagle are both far more experienced, and Mann has been dominant while playing in the Swedish Hockey League. Still, Commesso could end up being an intriguing story if he earns time in the crease.

Noah Cates, LW

At 22 years old, Cates is actually one of the more experienced players on the U.S. roster given the amount of teenagers headed overseas. Cates, a senior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is serving as the team's captain for the second straight year. The Stillwater, Minnesota native has registered six goals and 14 points through 22 games for the Bulldogs this season.

Cates was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and in 2019 represented the U.S. at the World Junior Championship, logging a goal and three points in seven games.

Brian O'Neill, RW

O'Neill is the only player from PyeongChang returning to this year's Olympic team. The 33-year-old native of Yardley, Pennsylvania registered a goal and four points in five games in at the 2018 Olympics, which ranked third on the team behind Ryan Donato and Troy Terry.

O'Neill has been playing for Jokerit of the KHL since 2016 and has become one of the league's more consistent point producers. This season, the 5-foot-9, 172-pound winger has logged nine goals and 42 points in 41 games.