Fire on Ice: Power Ranking the NHL’s 25 Fastest Skaters
Speed is not everything in the NHL, but often, players who can turn up the jets at the right time will find themselves on an island with only a goaltender in their way.
All 25 players listed in this slideshow can get a step on the best defensemen in the league and should make a major impact for their respective teams next year.
25. Brett Lebda (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Lebda made it into the league as an undrafted free agent because of his lightning fast feet.
He's able to stay in position and keep up with the fastest forwards in the league by turning on the jets. However, sometimes his speed gets him in trouble.
The following video is a warning for all of the NHL's finest skaters: speed cannot always get a player out of trouble.
24. Jason Chimera (Washington Capitals)
Via midseason trade, the Capitals acquired lightning-fast Jason Chimera from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Chimera has never breached the 20-goal mark in his 10-year career, but his feet make him a threat every time he enters the offensive zone.
Sometimes, however, he is unable to apply the breaks and it can get him into trouble, as seen in the following clip.
23. Dan Boyle (San Jose Sharks)
Like Lebda, Boyle was able to make an impact in the NHL as an undrafted free agent by using his skating ability.
After a full year with Florida, Boyle headed north to join Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, and the rest of the hyper-talented offensive players in Tampa, and brought the Bolts the Stanley Cup in 2004.
In a 2008 trade, Boyle was sent to the Sharks, where he used his fast feet to help San Jose become perennial contenders.
The following is a clip of a shootout, where Boyle uses his quick feet to tie up Ilya Bryzgalov, one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
22. Jay Bouwmeester (Calgary Flames)
The Panthers' third overall pick in 2002, Bouwmeester joined Calgary after six seasons in South Florida.
His ability to jump into the play has made him an offensive threat from the blueline.
As one of the fastest defensemen in the league, Bouwmeester was able to put up three 10-plus goal seasons with the Panthers before his production slumped off last season.
The following is a highlight clip showcasing Bouwmeester's ability to score in the offensive zone.
21. Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche)
After being selected third overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, Duchene made an instant impact for the Avalanche.
His 24-goal, 55-point rookie season allowed the Avs to go from bottom dwellers to playoff contenders.
The following is Duchene's first NHL goal, which came against the rival Red Wings.
20. Sergei Samsonov (Carolina Hurricanes)
A longtime Bruin, Samsonov has bounced around after leaving Boston in 2005, but found a home with the Hurricanes.
Samsonov, 31, has lost a step since he is older, but still remains one of the quickest players in the league.
The following clip displays Samsonov's speed as he bursts by two defensemen and puts the puck home against the Maple Leafs.
19. Matt Cullen (Minnesota Wild)
A teammate of Samsonov's in Carolina for the last one-and-a-half seasons, Cullen is another one of the game's fastest skaters.
His ability to skate around in the offensive zone allows him to set up teammates, or, as displayed in the clip above, put the puck in the back of the net.
18. Mike Green (Washington Capitals)
Overshadowed by teammate Alexander Ovechkin in Washington, Mike Green had 31 goals in the 2008 season and is a major reason why the Capitals have been a contender since the 2007 season.
Green's quick skates allow him to jump into the rush and lay down nasty hits like the one he delivered to speedy winger Fredrik Sjostrom in the clip above.
17. Mikhail Grabovski (Toronto Maple Leafs)
An important part of the rebuilding project in Toronto, Belarusian winger Mikhail Grabovski's ability to skate past defensemen allowed him to tally 20 goals in his first full NHL season.
Grabovski's steady hands compliment his speed well and allow him to score goals like the one displayed above.
16. Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators)
A major part of the trade that sent Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks, Milan Michalek's dynamic speed has allowed him to net 20 goals in each of the last four years.
In the following sequence, Michalek will use his speed to turn a neutral zone jam into a one-on-one breakaway while playing for the Sharks in the 2008 season.
15. Ilya Kovalchuk (unsigned)
Ilya Kovalchuk's lightning fast feet have allowed him to net 40 goals in each of the last six seasons and become the hottest commodity in this year's free agency.
After his 17-year contract was rejected by the NHL, Kovy remains on the market.
The video above displays a sequence of events that led Kovalchuk, with the Thrashers at the time, to call out Sidney Crosby after Crosby's penalty led to a powerplay goal.
14. Brian Campbell (Chicago Blackhawks)
The longtime Buffalo Sabre spent the end of the 2007 season with San Jose before joining his current team, the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008.
Campbell, one of the fastest defensemen in the league, may not have lived up to his contract in Chicago, but was an important part of their recent turnaround.
Campbell's speed often opens space for him in the offensive end, but his beautiful spin move, as shown above, allows him to find the back of the net when his number is called.
13. Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Martin St. Louis' dynamic speed has landed the undersized, undrafted winger a spot alongside highly-productive forwards Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos in Tampa.
The 2004 Stanley Cup-winning forward displays his speed with his ability to pick up a loose puck and net a highlight-worthy goal on stalwart goaltender Roberto Luongo in the video above.
12. Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks)
Marleau, 30, has been able to increase his production late in his career because of his ability to retain his speed.
With 44 goals last year, Marleau eclipsed the 40-goal mark for the first time in his 12-year career.
In the following video Marleau uses his speed to get into position to put home a game-winning overtime goal against the Red Wings in the 2010 Playoffs.
11. Maxim Afinogenov (unsigned)
Maxim Afinogenov earned the nickname "Baby Bure," in reference to fellow Russian superstar Pavel Bure, because of the dynamic speed he has displayed in his 10-year career.
The longtime Buffalo Sabre joined the Thrashers last year and had an impressive season after a let down in 2008.
In his return to Buffalo last year, Afinogenov scored one of the best goals of the 2010 seasons, his first as a Thrasher, which is displayed above.
10. Jeff Carter (Philadelphia Flyers)
A player on the rise, and a major part of the Flyers' Stanley Cup run last year, Carter has netted 30-plus goals in the last two years by using his legs.
One of the best players in the NHL without the puck, he uses his speed to get to the right position to score, as displayed in the clip above.
9. Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils)
A 30-goal scorer since his sophomore season with the powerhouse New Jersey Devils in 2006, Parise made a name for himself last year by netting a timely goal in the final game of the Vancouver Olympics.
Parise's dynamic speed and soft hands has made him one of the best players in the NHL.
On display above is Parise's greatest scoring effort, in which he uses a blend of speed and stickhandling to navigate through Colorado's defense and net a brilliant goal.
8. Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs)
After a 36-goal season in 2008, Kessel joined the Toronto Maple Leafs and netted 30 goals for his new team.
In the clip above, Kessel uses his dynamic speed to dance around two Florida defensemen and get the biscuit behind one of the best goaltenders in the league, Tomas Vokoun.
7. Andy McDonald (St. Louis Blues)
A vital part of the youth movement in St. Louis, Andy McDonald is one of the fastest skaters in professional hockey.
As the Blues, who reached the playoffs two years ago, continue to climb up the NHL hierarchy, McDonald, who helped Anaheim win a Stanley Cup in 2007, should get more recognition.
The following is a clip that displays McDonald's ability to use his speed to get himself in position to score against one of the game's best goaltenders, Chris Mason.
6. Darren Helm (Detroit Red Wings)
The only player to win a Stanley Cup before his rookie year, Darren Helm's speed has made him a major steal for the Red Wings (132nd overall in 2005).
Helm appears to be on the rise and is one of the best young players on the elderly Red Wings squad.
The following clip displays Helm's ability to kill a penalty using his speed during the 2008 playoffs.
5. Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
One of the many stars on Chicago's Stanley Cup-winning team last season, Kane uses his dynamic speed to make up for his small size.
Two years ago, Kane, who has had at least 20 goals in his three years in the league, made a name for himself in the playoffs by entering the zone and ripping a shot like the one displayed above.
4. Mason Raymond (Vancouver Canucks)
This product of the University of Minnesota-Duluth has been a great second-round pickup for the Canucks.
With his blazing speed, Raymond can break out of the neutral zone and paralyze defenders.
In the clip above, Raymond uses his speed to beat the Canadiens' defense off of the draw and net an early goal.
3. Matthew Lombardi (Nashville Predators)
The Predators, who lost Dan Hamhuis and Jason Arnott in the offseason, made a big pickup by acquiring Matthew Lombardi.
One of the few players to be drafted twice (215th overall, 2000 and 90th overall, 2002), Lombardi can fly. With two 40-point seasons in the last two years, Lombardi should be able to continue to produce in Nashville.
In the clip above, Lombardi nets a beautiful give-and-go goal while playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning last year.
2. Marian Gaborik (New York Rangers)
The first player drafted by expansion Minnesota in 2000, Gaborik was the face of the Wild franchise until he left for New York following a disappointing 2008 season.
Gaborik's speed and ability to dangle defensemen makes him one of the best goal scorers in the league.
The following video shows all five goals Gaborik scored against his current team, the Rangers, in a 2007 game.
1. Andrew Cogliano (Edmonton Oilers)
The 25th overall pick in 2005, the speedy Andrew Cogliano is a major part of the rebuilding process in Edmonton.
His blazing speed has allowed him to net 18 goals in his first two seasons, but he'll have to avoid a slump like he had last season if he's going to help the Oilers become relevant again.
Above is a complete version of the 2009 All-Star skills competition, where Cogliano was named the fastest player.