25 Speediest Skaters in the NHL

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IAugust 20, 2012

25 Speediest Skaters in the NHL

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    There are so many familiar sayings about speed in sports....Speed kills....You can't teach speed...You can't hit what you can't catch....

    The bottom line is that in hockey, like in every sport, speed is a dangerous weapon that can provide one team with the one play that provides the difference between winning and losing a game, a series or even a championship.

    With that in mind, here is a look at the 25 speediest skaters in the NHL today. The players that provide fire on the ice.

25. Mike Green

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    Blazing speed and a hard shot are the two best weapons in the impressive arsenal of Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green.

    When he is healthy, Green is one of the most dangerous players on the ice. The Calgary native scored 31 goals in 2008-09 and followed that up with a career-high 76 points the following season. He was named to the NHL's postseason First All Star Team after both of those seasons.

    Green also set an NHL record for defenseman in 2008-09 when he scored a goal in eight consecutive games, breaking the mark previously held by Mike O'Connell.

    Injuries have slowed Green down over the past two seasons, but when he's healthy, he remains one of the most dangerous offensive defensemen in the NHL. The Capitals signed him to a new, three-year contract worth more than $18 earlier this summer.

24. Brian Campbell

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    Florida's Brian Campbell has been a model of consistency for the Sabres, Sharks, Blackhawks and Panthers since breaking into the NHL more than a decade ago.

    The speedy Strathroy, Ontario, native has scored 58 goals and totaled 365 points in 708 career NHL games. Campbell remains one of the faster defensemen in the NHL, even at the age of 33. His puck moving skills and on-ice vision have helped make "Soupy" one of the best defensemen in the NHL since 2000.

    It is no coincidence that Campbell's teams went on long playoff runs for five seasons in a row beginning in 2006 and he assisted on the Stanley Cup winning goal for Chicago in 2010.

    In 2011-12, Campbell was a major factor in the Florida Panthers first playoff appearance in more than a decade when he scored a career-high 53 points. He also became the first defenseman to win the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with highly skilled play since Red Kelly won it back in 1954.

23. Patrick Marleau

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    Patrick Marleau holds nearly every career scoring record in San Jose Sharks history.

    The Aneroid, Saskatoon, native was a good player before the NHL changed its rules to cut down on obstruction in 2005, but once the new rules opened up the ice and emphasized speed, Marleau became one of the league's best players.

    Since the lockout, Marleau has scored 30 or more goals in six of seven seasons including a career-high 44 in 2009-10. He now has 387 goals and 830 points in 1,117 career NHL games.

    Marleau won a gold medal playing for Canada in 2010 and has been selected to play in three NHL All-Star Games. He uses his speed to be a effective player all over the ice.

22. Mikhail Grabovksi

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    Mikhail Grabovski's speed has helped him score 85 career NHL goals including a career-high 29 in 2010-11.

    The talented Belarusian started his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 2006-07 but was traded to rival Toronto in July of 2008. With the Leafs, Grabovski became a full-time NHL player and quickly registered his first career 20 goal season.

    Grabovski was picked to represent Belarus in the 2010 Winter Olympics but an injury kept him from playing.

    He remains one of the fastest skaters on the Maple Leafs and in the league.

21. Duncan Keith

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    2010 was a special year for Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. The Winnipeg native won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best blueliner and helped lead the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup title since 1961. Keith scored 17 points in 22 playoff games to help fuel the Chicago attack that year. He also won an Olympic gold medal representing Canada earlier that year.

    Keith's speed and vision help make him such a dangerous weapon on the ice. He has scored 56 goals and totaled 282 points in 560 career NHL games, all with Chicago.

    In addition to his speed, Keith has shown toughness including the time he returned to action in a playoff game against San Jose shortly after he lost seven teeth when he blocked a shot.

    At 29, Keith is in the prime of his career. He remains the Blackhawks best defenseman and one of speediest players in the game today.

20. Andy McDonald

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    Speed has always been the name of the game for St. Louis Blues center Andy McDonald.

    In 2007, he showcased his skating ability by winning the fastest skater challenge at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition with a time of 14.03 seconds.

    Later that year, McDonald helped the Anaheim Ducks win their first Stanley Cup title. He scored 10 playoff goals during the Ducks run to a title, including five tallies in five games in the final series against Ottawa.

    The former Colgate University star was traded to St. Louis the following season and was later named an alternate captain of the Blues.

    McDonald is an important part of the Blues attack and remains one of the game's fastest skaters even at the age of 34. He has scored 175 goals and 468 points in 648 career NHL games.

19. Sidney Crosby

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    Because he is so talented, fans may forget that speed is one of the many weapons that helps make Sidney Crosby such a special talent.

    Crosby burst onto the NHL scene in 2005 when he was the top overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft. He didn't disappoint, scoring 39 goals and 102 points as a rookie.

    Crosby's quickness helps him avoid defenders and get open for quality scoring chances. He tallied a career-high 51 goals in 2010 to tie for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer.

    In 2009, Crosby helped lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup title, making him the youngest player to be captain of a Cup winning team.

    He has already won a Hart Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award in his young NHL career.

    In 2010, Crosby scored the game winning goal in overtime to clinch the gold medal for Canada at the Olympics in Vancouver.

    Injuries have limited Crosby to 63 games over the past two seasons, but when he's healthy, he's acknowledged as the best hockey player in the world.

    At 25, Crosby is just entering his prime and he should have plenty of time to add to his already impressive list of NHL accomplishments.

18. Jay Bouwmeester

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    Speed has always been the name of the game for Flames defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester, so much so that Rick Carriere, his GM in juniors, said he could have played in the NHL at 15.

    The Edmonton native was named to the NHL's All-Rookie team in 2003 and has also been selected to play in two NHL All-Star Games. Bouwmeester also represented Canada in the 2006 Olympics.

    Bouwmeester recorded three straight seasons of double-digit goals including back-to-back years with 15 tallies in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

    In 717 career NHL games, Bouwmeester has scored 65 goals and accumulated 285 points.

17. Milan Michalek

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    Milan Michalek faced high expectations when the San Jose Sharks selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft but the swift skating Czech has met them all.

    Michalek scored a career high 35 goals last season despite missing five games due to a concussion and he was selected as a starter at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.

    Michalek has already scored more than 20 goals in a season five times during his NHL career and has also represented the Czech Republic at the 2010 Olympics.

    In 526 career NHL games, the 27-year-old Michalek has scored 166 goals and has 341 points. Because of his speed, he is a threat to score every time he steps onto the ice.

16. Mason Raymond

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    Vancouver Canucks winger Mason Raymond's ability to skate quickly has helped him become a steady scoring threat in the NHL.

    Raymond won the Canucks fastest skater competition in 2008 and scored a career-high 25 goals and 53 points in 2009-10.

    Injuries have bee the only thing that seem to be able to slow down the 26-year-old Cochrane, Alberta, native who has been a key part of a Vancouver team that has won back-to-back President's Trophies in 2011 and 2012.

    Raymond suffered a fractured vertebrae in Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final when he was slammed into the boards by Boston's Johnny Boychuk early in the first period of the game. He missed the rest of the series and the Canucks lost both the sixth and seventh game of the series.

    He made his return to the lineup in December, 2011 and recorded six points in his first seven games for the Canucks that season.

    Raymond has scored 70 goals and 156 points in 328 career NHL games.

15. Andrew Cogliano

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    Nobody doubts the speed of Anaheim Ducks center Andrew Cogliano. The Toronto native erased any remaining skeptics in 2009 when he won the speed skating competition at the 2009 All Star Weekend with a time of 14.31 seconds.

    Cogliano joined the Edmonton Oilers after two successful years at the University of Michigan. In March of his rookie season, Cogliano set an NHL record by scoring overtime game winning goals in three consecutive games.

    At 25, Cogliano should be just entering his most productive seasons. Thus far, he has scored 70 goals and 172 points in 410 NHL games.

14. Michael Grabner

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    Michael Grabner may not get a lot of attention from the media playing on Long Island, but opponents know how dangerous the swift native of Villach, Austria can be.

    Grabner won the fastest skater competition at the 2011 NHL All Star Weekend. His exceptional speed  and hockey smarts helped him earn a lot of scoring chances on breakaways as a rookie and he cashed in 34 times in 76 games. That placed him first among rookies in goals scored and helped make him a finalist for the Calder Trophy. He was also named to the NHL's all-rookie team.

    Once Grabner's finishing skills catch up to his skating ability, he will be even more dangerous. The speedy Austrian is still just 24-years-old.

13. Darren Helm

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    Darren Helm has a unique distinction in NHL history: he became the first player to score six goals in the playoffs before ever potting a goal in a regular season game. Helm played only seven games with Detroit in 2007-08 but his quickness made him a part of the Red Wings lineup in the playoffs and he hoisted the Stanley Cup that June.

    The Red Wings tend to be patient with their prospects and let them develop in the AHL and Helm was no exception. He finally became a regular NHLer in 2009-10.

    Teammate Kris Draper admires Helm's speed and once called him "Usain Bolt on ice."

    In 248 NHL games, Helm has scored 32 goals and 83 points.

12. Alex Ovechkin

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    Alex Ovechkin is one of the most dangerous players in the National Hockey League. In addition to his physical style and desire to hit opponents, he uses his great speed to create scoring chances that few others could hope to create. And if Ovechkin gets a step on defenders, he's as good as gone.

    Ovechkin is such a fast skater, Caps owner Ted Leonsis has even said it would be OK if he slowed down a bit.

    That isn't all that likely. The speedy Russian has already won the Calder Trophy, two Rocket Richard Trophies, a pair of Hart Trophies as league MVP and an Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point getter.

    Four times, Ovechkin has topped the 50 goal mark in a season and in seven NHL campaigns, he has never scored fewer than 32 goals.

    Ovechkin has been considered one of the best players in the world for so long now, it's tough to believe he is still only 26-years-old.

    The Moscow native has already scored 339 goals and 679 points in just 553 career NHL games.

11. Steven Stamkos

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    Steven Stamkos is the most dangerous goal scorer in the NHL today and he wouldn't be in that category without his excellent speed.

    Stamkos won his second Rocket Richard Trophy in 2011-12, leading the NHL with 60 goals scored. In 2009-10, he became the third youngest player in NHL history to score 50 or more goals in a season.

    Last year, he scored 60 goals and 97 points, both career highs. He also set a Lightning franchise record with five overtime game winners.

    The Markham, Ontario, native has already scored 179 career NHL goals and 329 points in just four seasons.

10. Marian Gaborik

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    "There is fast and then there is Gabby fast." That's what Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist tweeted this past January after watching Marian Gaborik use his speed to set up a game winning goal in a shootout against the Phoenix Coyotes.

    Gaborik has been slowed a bit by injuries in recent years, but he's still one of the fastest skaters in the game.

    The swift Slovak has topped the 40 goal mark three times in his NHL career and is the all-time leading goal scorer in the history of the Minnesota Wild.

    In 722 career NHL games, the Rangers sniper has scored 324 goals and 647 points.

9. Jeff Carter

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    Jeff Carter was the last piece of the puzzle for the Los Angeles Kings in 2012. When they added Carter to the lineup, it gave them more speed and more depth in their lineup and it took them all the way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup title.

    Carter capped off a turbulent season by scoring the Cup-winning goal in Game 6 against the Devils.

    Carter has three straight seasons of 30 or more goals including a career best 46 with the Flyers back in 2008-09. He also played in the All-Star Game that season.

    If he can stay healthy, Carter should have plenty of productive hockey left in him as he is just 27. He already has scored 202 goals and 377 points in 516 career NHL games.

8. Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Devils sniper Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the NHL today.

    Dustin Brown of the Kings summed up what makes Kovalchuk so dangerous just before the Stanley Cup final got underway this past May. "He's big, he's strong and he's fast," Brown remarked. "If you give him the time and space and open ice to gather up his speed, he's pretty hard to defend."

    Kovalchuk used that speed to lead the NHL with 11 shootout goals last season. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2004 when he tied for the lead league in goals. The Tver, Russia, native has topped the 40 goal mark five times in his career and twice scored more than 50.

    Thus far, Kovalchuk has scored 406 goals and 785 points in 779 career NHL games.

7. Phil Kessel

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    How fast is Toronto's Phil Kessel? The Hockey News' Ryan Dixon once described him as "a mix between a German autobahn and Prairie highway - straight ahead and no speed limit."

    Kessel is just 24-years-old, but he's already done some pretty remarkable things. He's survived testicular cancer and became the first rookie in NHL history to win the Masterton Trophy. He has scored 30 or more goals for four straight seasons, won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics and tied a record for American-born NHL players by scoring at least one point in 18 straight games.

    Kessel has already scored 165 goals and 327 points in just 456 career NHL games including a career-high 82 points in 2011-12.

6. Matt Duchene

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    Matt Duchene entered the NHL as a highly touted prospect in 2009. Just before he was drafted, The Hockey News described Duchene as "a 5-foot-11 blur streaking from end-to-end."

    Since joining the Avalanche, Duchene has shown steady improvement, scoring a career-high 27 goals and 67 points in 2010-11, his last full healthy season. That made him the youngest player ever to lead the Avalanche in scoring. He battled knee and ankle injuries last season.

    Duchene is only 21 and should be ready to take his game to another level.

5. Colin Greening

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    Former Cornell University star Colin Greening has burst onto the NHL scene.

    Greening broke the Senators franchise record in the fastest skater skills competition this past season with a time of 13.434. At the actual All-Star Weekend, Greening finished second behind the Rangers Carl Hagelin.

    Greeing's quickness doesn't mean that the St. John's, Newfoundland, native neglects defense, he uses his speed all over the ice.

    Last season, he finished with 17 goals and 37 points in his first full season in the NHL.

4. Carl Hagelin

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    Speedy Swede Carl Hagelin set a new record at the NHL Super Skills Competition at this year's All Star Weekend when he won the fastest skater competition.

    Teammate Brad Richards recognized how important speed is to Hagelin's game. "He has speed, he is in on the forecheck and on people’s heels," Richards told SNY. "The turnover that led to my goal was all because of his speed. He is always buzzing.”

    Hagelin joined the Rangers last season after a successful stint at the University of Michigan. He finished his rookie season with 14 goals and 38 points and was an impressive plus-21 in 64 games.

3. Taylor Hall

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    Taylor Hall was the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and the quick Calgary native has worked hard to prove the Oilers made the right choice by picking him over Tyler Seguin.

    Hall has been described by ESPN Boston as possessing a "unique style and combination of speed and deft scoring touch."

    Hall scored 22 goals in 65 games as a rookie, then improved to 27 goals in just 61 games in 2011-12. Injuries limited his time on the ice, but when he was out there, Hall's talent and speed were always evident.

    The Oilers consider him one of the cornerstones of their rebuilding program.

2. Patrick Kane

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    Patrick Kane has accomplished a lot in just five NHL seasons. The Buffalo native has won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics and scored the Cup winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, making him the youngest player to score a Stanley Cup winning overtime goal.

    Speed is a big part of Kane's game and he has already scored 369 points in his first 399 career NHL games.

    Kane is still only 23 and he should continue to develop into one of the game's best players.

1. Erik Karlsson

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    Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy in 2011-12, scoring 78 points to lead all defensemen by a large margin.

    No less an authority than Bobby Orr was impressed by how quick Karlsson was on the ice. "This kid has wonderful speed. Great, great hockey sense,” Orr told the Ottawa Sun.

    Karlsson has played in two NHL All-Star Games in just three NHL seasons. He already holds the Senators franchise record for goals and assists in a season by a defenseman.

    The Swedish defenseman is still just 22 and has yet to reach his full potential. However, he is already the fastest skater in the NHL today.