When the U.S. Olympic hockey roster was revealed, a few eyebrows were raised at the goaltending position. Drew Commesso, a top prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks and recent starter at the World Juniors was included, alongside veteran minor leaguer Pat Nagle. The prospective Olympic starter, though, was Strauss Mann, a name that wasn’t so familiar to NHL or even AHL fans.
Mann, 23, had been a star at the University of Michigan previously, even captaining the squad in the shortened 2020-21 season. But he was undrafted and had left North America to play in Sweden, where he was part of Skelleftea AIK. The young netminder ended up splitting time at the Olympics with Commesso, putting up a .945 save percentage in his Team USA debut, and finished the year in the SHL with a .914 save percentage in 22 appearances.
Eliminated from the playoffs rather quickly, Skelleftea has now announced that Mann–along with several others, including the recently-signed Adam Wilsby and former NHL forward Jayce Hawryluk–will not be returning for 2022-23, making him an unrestricted free agent once again. Mann can now sign an entry-level contract with an NHL team, should there be interest in his services, or try his hand at the minor league level.
If he does end up landing an NHL contract for 2022-23, it would be a one-year deal, as Mann will turn 24 in August. While he doesn’t have the prototypical NHL frame, standing just 6’0″, there has been a shift toward accepting undersized (or at least non-gigantic) goaltenders of late. Mann’s success overseas and at the Olympics certainly has put him on the radar of some professional organizations in North America, so it will be interesting to see where he lands next.