Top 10 Fastest Players in NHL History
These are the fastest players in NHL history based on overall speed. This list is based mainly on in-game speed. The eye test is the most important to me which is the main determinant when looking at the fastest skaters in NHL history. I will also be considering the fastest skater all-star competition which heavily favors NHL players from the 90s onwards.
#10 – Mike Gartner
When the fastest skater competition begun in 1990, Mike Gartner immediately put his speed on display. He won the first ever fastest skater competition and followed it up with another two wins in 1993 and 1996. That makes him one of only two players in NHL history to win the fastest skater competition twice.
It’s the same story in-game. Mike Gartner was a goal scoring machine. He maintained that elite speed throughout his long 19-year career scoring more than 30 goals for 15 consecutive seasons. Right now he has the 6th most goals in NHL history with 708.
#9 – Dylan Larkin
While he hasn’t won the fastest skater competition more than once like Mike Gartner, Dylan Larkin holds the record for the fastest time of 13.172 in the NHL All-Star fastest skater competition. He is also one of the few current players who made this list.
While he has only been in the NHL for 6 seasons, it’s clear he has game breaking speed that isn’t going anywhere. The Red Wings have struggled over this time, but not at the fault of Larkin. He may be one of the least accomplished players on this list, but his record breaking speed needs recognition.
#8 – Scott Niedermayer
It takes a special kind of player to have his jersey retired for two different teams. Not only is Scott Niedermayer one of the fastest NHL skaters ever, he is also one of the best defenseman ever. Both the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Mighty Ducks recognized that greatness.
This is the two-time fastest skater competition winner and four-time Stanley Cup winner. Stanley Cups are one thing, but he also went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy which gets rewarded to the NHL’s playoff MVP.
#7 – Bobby Hull
Some names write themselves. For Bobby Hull, it was “the Golden Jet”. Credit that to his luscious, blonde hair. As well as his blazing fast, jet-like speed. Not only was he one of the fastest skaters ever, he also had one of the fastest slapshots ever.
The Golden Jet scored more than 50 goals over five different seasons throughout his career. He also became the fourth player ever to reach 1000 points.
#6 – Sergei Fedorov
Alexander Ovechkin is the gold standard for Russian players in the NHL today, but it was Sergei Fedorov who initially set that bar. He was one of the first Russians to dominate in the NHL making his mark as a complete, two-way player.
It was his speed the separated him from the rest. Sergei Fedorov was the first two-time fastest skater winner. He loved defending with his physicality but could also fly end to end. It was this ability that led the Red Wings to win three Stanley Cups with Fedorov.
They did not regret taking the chance on this international player. Not even a little bit. He was a pioneer for teams taking chances on such players down the line.
Honorable Mention – Erik Karlsson
The only thing that stops Erik Karlsson from being considered one of the best defenseman in NHL history is that Stanley Cup. This is a defender who made a career off his ability to attack. That ability to attack comes from his speed and puck handling ability.
Karlsson was an absolute stud with the Ottawa Senators. He still holds the Sens’ records for any defenseman while only spending nine seasons with the team. Those records include most points in a single season with 78 which marked his first James Norris trophy award.
#5 – Maurice Richard
Again, some nicknames write themselves. They called him Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. He was undersized, but it was the Rockets speed and tenacity that allowed for his success.
He become the first NHL player ever to score 50 goals in a season as well as reach 500 career goals. This was the type of player who wanted to win and win he did. With the Montreal Canadians, Maurice Richard won eight Stanley Cups which is the fourth most ever by any player.
I also have to shoutout the wildness of the era he played during. In 1955, Richard struck a ref during a game and was suspended for the entire season season. Fans were so outraged that they started the “Richard Riot” which caused $100,000 in damage and led to 100 arrests putting 73 people in the hospital. He was a little too beloved.
#4 – Pavel Bure
Speaking of the Rocket Richard, they called Pavel Bure the Russian Rocket. He often sliced and diced the defense with his speed, quickness and graceful puck handling.
His teammate Cliff Ronning has a quote that perfectly describes the Russian Rocket. “I’ve never seen a guy skate that fast, that confident and go end-to-end. I don’t know if you’ll ever see it again how fast he skated. I don’t know how fast he was going. I don’t think anyone’s ever skated that fast.”
Pavel Bure led the NHL in scoring three times over his career including twice in which he passed the 60 goal milestone. This dominance led to his hall of fame nomination in 2012.
#3 – Bobby Orr
When people ask, “Who is the best player in NHL history?” there are only really three names that get put in the argument. Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr. While I don’t believe Bobby Orr is the best player in NHL history, I do believe that he is the best defenseman in NHL history.
To put it in perspective here are some of his most impressive accolades. Bobby Orr won two Stanley Cups, won the Norris Trophy eight consecutive seasons and won the Hart Trophy three straight seasons. He was consistently the best player over one of the toughest eras in hockey.
He was way ahead of his time and the same goes for his speed. Orr was always considered the fastest player in the NHL when he played. It’s a shame that knee injuries would cause him to retire at the young age of 30.
#2 – Paul Coffey
Bobby Orr completely transformed the way defenseman played in the NHL. There was Bobby Orr and then there was Paul Coffey. With some massive shoes to fill, Paul Coffey became the fastest skater in the NHL at the defenseman position.
All it takes is to see what the Great One, Wayne Gretzky was saying about him. When the humble Paul Coffey was giving praise to the fast skating ability of Connor McDavid saying it was nothing he had seen before, Wayne Gretzky pointed out that he’s seen that from Coffey himself. His ability to reach top speed with only a couple of steps was uncanny. That led him to many highlight plays from end to end and a long list of records.
Some of his most impressive accolades include most goals in a season by a defenseman and ranking second in career goals, assists and points.
#1 – Connor McDavid
The NHL is an ever-evolving sport. They have developed better equipment, better coaching, better training, and all this leads to developing the fastest player in NHL history in Connor McDavid. There isn’t a single weakness in his game including his game breaking speed. His gliding on skates is faster than most players’ top speed.
Connor McDavid is the first player to win back-to-back fastest skater competitions and the first to win three total. And guess what, he did it consecutively. When it comes to competing with the best at the All-Star competition, all it takes is a single misstep to lose. Too bad for his competitors, McDavid is in a league of his own.
I would love to give the nod to some of the pioneers as the fastest skaters ever, but I can’t. It’s Connor McDavid. Connor McDavid is the fastest skater in NHL history and I don’t think it can be argued considering the evolution of the game.
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