Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. men's Olympic hockey roster probably would've been pretty easy to predict. However, with the NHL opting out of the 2022 Winter Olympics due to concerns surrounding the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, it was anyone's guess as to who would be donning the red, white and blue at this year's Games.
Thursday evening, the guessing was put to rest.
USA Hockey announced its full 25-player men's roster for the Olympics, and much like when the NHL held its players out of the PyeongChang Olympics, collegiate and international players are once again taking center stage as the U.S. looks to compete for a gold medal.
Below is a full rundown of the men's roster by position:
"We're excited about the roster we've put together," said USA Hockey general manager of the U.S. men's team John Vanbiesbrouck. "The Olympics are the biggest stage in sports and it was fun to hear the enthusiasm our players have to represent their country. We're fortunate to have a deep talent pool -- thanks in part to all the great work of our volunteers in communities across the nation -- and with the mix of players who are part of our team, we're looking forward to competing for a gold medal in Beijing."
Matty Beniers, a native of Hingham, Massachusetts, stands out as one of the bigger names on the roster. Drafted No. 2 overall by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Beniers is regarded as one of the top forward prospects in hockey. Still just 19 years old, Beniers has put together a stellar collegiate career at the University of Michigan, logging 22 goals and 50 total points in 46 games as a Wolverine.
Joining him on Team USA will be his Michigan teammate Brendan Brisson. Like Beniers, Brisson is in his second season at the University of Michigan. Through 47 collegiate games, the 20-year-old Manhattan Beach, California native has logged 24 goals and 48 total points. Brisson was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Jake Sanderson is another up-and-comer sure to draw a fair share of eyes at the Olympics. The Montana native was drafted fifth overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, and he's currently averaging over a point per game as a defenseman with the University of North Dakota.
A number of former NHLers will also be headed to the Olympics, including Kenny Agostino, Steven Kampfer, Andy Miele, Aaron Ness, Nick Shore and David Warsofsky.
Brian O’Neill is the only player on the roster not making his Olympic debut. He played for the U.S. in PyeongChang, logging one goal and four total points in five games.
The U.S. men will play their first Olympic contest on February 10 at 8:10 a.m. ET against China.