Matty Beniers Michigan
Michael Caterina-USA TODAY Sports

No NHL? No problem!

On Thursday evening, USA Hockey announced the new-look roster that will head to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The NHL is not sending its players because of ongoing COVID concerns in the league and the host country. It was a bit of a let-down for fans and players alike; the NHLPA had specifically negotiated the right to play in the Olympics when they renewed the CBA with the league.

But the new roster is full of future NHL players — hopefully stars.

And we should be excited about the return of non-NHL players in the Olympics.

The Roster

Here’s the roster USA Hockey introduced on Thursday:

14 Forwards: Nick Abruzzese, Kenny Agostino, Matty Beniers, Brendan Brisson, Noah Cates, Sean Farrell, Sam Hentges, Matthew Knies, Marc McLaughlin, Ben Meyers, Andy Miele, Brian O’Neill, Nick Shore, Nathan Smith.

8 Defensemen: Brian Cooper, Brock Faber, Drew Helleson, Steven Kampfer, Aaron Ness, Nick Perbix, Jake Sanderson, David Warsofsky.

3 Goaltenders: Drew Commesso, Strauss Mann, Pat Nagle.

You’ve got some recent draft choices who are currently playing either in the NCAA or professional leagues in Europe/Russia. There are a few names NHL fans might remember (Steven Kampfer, Ken Agostino) and some young players who could be stars in the future.

What we like

Have you seen the movie Miracle recently? If not, watch it again. If you have… watch it again anyway.

We’re not saying these Olympics set up for the kind of amazing story that USA Hockey created in 1980. That was, arguably, the greatest upset in team sports history. And still gives fans goosebumps today.

But the passion of players who aren’t yet in the NHL is just as strong as the professionals.

And we might be as interested in watching this roster to see if/how it works than playing fantasy hockey with the collection of amazing talent we’ve enjoyed over the past three decades.

Even though there aren’t any players on the USA roster who have been drafted by the Rangers, Islanders or Devils, this still sets up for a fascinating Olympics on the ice.

And we’re here for the lack of established stars.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.