Al Iafrate was known around the league for his screaming slap shot. In fact, both NHL.com and Sports Illustrated recently rated Iafrate's howitzer as the fourth-best slap shot in NHL history.
Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated may have best encapsulated Iafrate's mentality as an artillery officer with a frightening reputation:
At 6'-3", 240-pounds, Iafrate was one of the biggest, strongest men ever to play the game and could he lay the hammer down. He knew he scared goalies with his shot, so he loved to move down into the circle before letting it fly to really put the fear into them. He was the favorite to win the inaugural Hardest Shot competition and delivered a 96 MPH blast to earn the title, but it was what he did the next year that sealed his rep as one of the all-time bombers: a 105.2 MPH rocket that stood unchallenged for 16 years.
Iafrate used this blue-line bazooka to his advantage. He reached double digits in goals in each of his three full seasons in Washington, maxing out at 25 in 1992-93, a career high. That same season, the Michigander set another career high with 11 power-play goals. For his efforts in 1992-93, Iafrate ranks fourth in goals among the Capitals' single-season leaders for defensemen, and fifth in power-play goals.
Iafrate was no less effective during the postseason. In fact, he more than doubled his goals-per-game average and power-play goals-per-game average in the playoffs. The 1992-93 edition of the Stanley Cup playoffs were again his finest hour, when he scored six goals in the final three games of a six-game series against the New York Islanders. This onslaught included a playoff hat trick in Game 5.
Now, it may be hard to believe that Iafrate is the best scoring defenseman in Capitals history. After all, he only ranks eighth among Washington's regular-season career leaders for defensemen in both goals and power-play goals. And among Capitals postseason defensive leaders, Iafrate only ranks fourth in goals and seventh in power-play goals.
But all that is pretty impressive considering he ranks 22nd among Washington defensemen in career games played. Imagine the number of franchise scoring records Iafrate would own if he played more than three-and-a-half seasons in Washington.
If Iafrate had played longer for the Capitals, we might also have more photographic evidence of that epic comb-over mullet. Savor the little we have.