NHL

Ranking the 10 Fastest Skaters in the 2014 NHL Draft

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2014

Ranking the 10 Fastest Skaters in the 2014 NHL Draft

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The NHL entry draft preparations are in their final stages. Players and managers are congregated in Toronto for the NHL combine this week. Teams have their lists and will check and amend based on the testing and interviews leading up to the draft.

    The key elements pertain to what happens on the ice. A primary asset is speed, something that can be used to great effect on offense and defense. There are speed burners in the 2014 draft, and that one skill will help their draft number.

    Here are the 10 fastest players in the 2014 NHL draft.

10. Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL)

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    Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Haydn Fleury is a two-way defenseman who can help at both ends of the ice. He is one of the best defenders available in this year's draft because of his range of skills.

    How Fast is He? Craig Button told TSN about Fleury back in the fall, focusing on his skating ability:

    Excellent skating base and he uses it defensively and to jump into the attack offensively. Very good puck skills and he passes well out of his zone and in the offensive zone to create scoring chances. Very good awareness with the puck and is threat with his shot which makes it hard to keep him from contributing. Competitive and continues to gain confidence and get better.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Fleury is a mobile defenseman who is effective offensively and without the puck, closing gaps and forcing turnovers. He's an excellent finesse defender. 

9. Nikolay Goldobin, LW, Sarnia (OHL)

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    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Nikolay Goldobin is a quality offensive player who uses skill and terrific speed to impact the offense.

    How Fast is He? Brock Otten from OHL Prospects talks about Goldobin's speed and how he uses it to his advantage:

    He's at his best off the rush where he explodes across the blue line and catches a lot of OHL defenseman flat footed, as they're not able to keep up with his ability to carry the puck at top speed. He's not incredibly strong, but he manages to avoid most checks as he's very slippery and elusive.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Goldobin's speed is vital to his value as a player. His combination of speed and puck-handling ability make him a very attractive player to NHL teams.

8. Sam Bennett, C, Kingston (OHL)

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    Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Sam Bennett is one of the most complete players in the draft and is a strong candidate to go No. 1 overall.

    How Fast is He? Brock Otten from OHL Prospects gives us a thorough description of his speed and how he manages to be everywhere at once:

    He's incredibly shifty one on one and does a great job at using his skating ability (his agility and ability to turn is exceptional) in conjunction with his terrific puck skill, to create lanes for him to shoot. His acceleration is very deceptive and he's able to beat defenders down the wing to the net, or explode off the wall to create scoring chances.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? A lot of Bennett's best qualities—creating offense from turnovers, making great passes on the fly—are based on foot speed and quick recovery. It's central to his ability.

7. Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia (OHL)

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Anthony DeAngelo is the purest offensive-defenseman in the draft and is so fast he often serves as a fourth forward on the rush.

    How Fast is He? Brock Otten from OHL Prospects informs us about DeAngelo:

    His skating ability is absolutely phenomenal, as is his ability to carry the puck and avoid checks. Because of this, he's generally able to enter the offensive zone with ease at this level. DeAngelo also runs the powerplay very effectively. He makes smart decisions there and does a great job of getting himself open to use his shot.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? DeAngelo with the puck is a brilliant, fast player who can pick apart defenses with precision. His defensive issues are significant, and he hasn't yet learned how to use his speed effectively without the puck.

6. Josh Ho-Sang, LW, Windsor (OHL)

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    Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Josh Ho-Sang is a speed merchant with impressive offensive ability. His OHL season was among the best in the league in 2013-14.

    How Fast is He? Ben Kerr from Last Word on Sports describes him as a very fast forward: 

    Josh Ho-Sang is incredibly skilled.  He is a lightning fast skater with incredible agility and edgework.  Ho-Sang has a great first step and outstanding acceleration as well.  This helps him to get to loose pucks and dart through openings in the offensive zone.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Ho-Sang's play without the puck is a work in progress, as described by Kerr in his article. Offensively, he's an exceptional talent who uses his lightning speed to wreak havoc on opponents.

5. Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagra (OHL)

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Brendan Perlini combines size, speed and a quality release, and he represents a formidable offensive force when he's on.

    How Fast is He? Brock Otten from OHL Prospects talks about Perlini's assets:

    Perlini has three great things going for him. Size, skating and one heck of a shot. Once he gets going down the wing, he's incredibly difficult to stop and he has both a great slapper and a terrific wrist shot, which he needs little space to get off. He does a great job of getting himself in scoring position to use his shot and has gotten better at fighting through traffic to get open.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? NHL teams love forwards with size and speed, and Perlini's shot means he is a possible impact player. Otten discusses consistency in his report, but speed is useful on offense and defense. Once he learns the defensive aspects of the game, Perlini could be a complete winger.

4. William Nylander, LW, MODO (SHL)

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    His Skill Set: William Nylander is a dynamic player with the full range of offensive skills. His recent eye-popping performance at the U-18 World Championships helped his cause.

    How Fast is He? Elite Prospects tells us about Nylander, including his speed:

    A highly skilled player offensively. Nylander skates very well, has impressive hands and is excellent at handling the puck at high speeds. Hockey sense is very impressive and he likes to shoot the puck a lot, but is also capable of delivering perfect passes. A very agile player that protects the puck well and skates hard in the offensive zone.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Nylander's creativity and fast-break offense rely heavily on his speed, and that will be his calling card at the NHL level. Watching his highlight package is an adrenaline-rush experience, NHL scouts have to love his skill.

3. Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph (OHL)

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Robby Fabbri is a brilliant offensive prospect with a motor that won't quit. His electric performance in the recent Memorial Cup Championships reflect the range in his game.

    How Fast is He? Brock Otten from OHL Prospects offers some insight into Fabbri's game:

    He impacts the game on so many different levels. He's a tireless worker at both ends of the ice. He excels without the puck and is a real puck hound. If he doesn't have the puck, he's going to fight to get it and is great at forcing turnovers in the neutral zone, using his smarts and an active stick. On the forecheck, he showcases deceptive speed and despite his lack of size, wins a lot of battles along the boards.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Fabbri is similar to the more famous Sam Bennett in style and ability, and he makes a lot happen with his speed. An NHL team selecting Fabbri will be acquiring a very talented forward.

2. Jake Virtanen, LW, Calgary (WHL)

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Jake Virtanen's speed comes in a terrific offensive package. The big winger is an outstanding shooter and very effective at driving to the net.

    How Fast is He? Craig Button told TSN about an emerging power forward: 

    Jake is a great skater with a great shot and when he bears in on defenders, they are on their heels. He has an edge to his game and could be that 'grand slam' player all teams would love to get.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Virtanen is a fascinating prospect. He's a big player with soft hands and speed, as described by The Hockey News. That's an impact skill set, and an NHL team will be getting an exceptional player at the draft.

1. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    His Skill Set: Nikolaj Ehlers is one of the most exciting players in the draft and a lock for selection inside the top 10 overall.

    How Fast is He? Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish gave an excellent scouting report on Ehlers to Andrew Rankin from Metro Halifax:

    He looked pretty good to me. He’s a pretty dynamic, a very dynamic player. He’s really exciting to watch. Every time he’s on the ice you can see he has a hunger and intense desire to play the game: high-speed skill, quickness, great stick skill. He looks very dangerous to me.

    How Much Does Speed Impact His Game? Ehlers is an electrifying talent who creates a great deal of offense off the rush and by pushing opponents into bad decisions. He is sure to please fans with his explosive speed and high-end skill.

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