How Fast Can An Ice Hockey Player Skate
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How Fast Can Ice Hockey Players Skate?

Ice hockey is a fast-paced game, and skaters move at incredible speeds. But how fast do you think ice hockey skaters are? Even though people know that ice hockey skaters are very fast, many people do not know how to compare them in the general world. That is why this article will discuss the following:

  • The average and top speeds of NHL players
  • Comparing the average and top speeds of NHL skaters to the speed of everyday objects
  • And we will be looking at five of the fastest NHL players in history.

Hockey Skating Speed

Skating puts a lot of strain on the upper body since the legs and thighs have to exert more effort than the rest of the body. Hockey is a fast-paced sport, so being able to skate past an opponent quickly opens up several scoring possibilities.

NHL games sometimes feature blazing speeds between 10 and 45 km/h. Ice hockey is thought to be the quickest sport because of the players’ spontaneous speed-ups and other factors.

Blinking puts a player in danger of missing a quick maneuver when they are skating at peak speed in ice hockey.

Average Speed Of Ice Hockey Skaters

Average Speed Of Ice Hockey Skaters

What is the average speed of an NHL player? How fast can they go on skates?

NHL players have remarkably quick skating speeds. NHL ice hockey players move at a speed between 10 and 20 mph on average. This is typically equivalent to about 16-32 km/h

However, this is the speed measure for average NHL players. When we move on, we look at players who skate at risky speeds of 21-27mph (equal to 33-43km/h), which is where the fastest players in the NHL fall.

Related Topic: What is the Average Age & Career Length In The NHL?

Ice Hockey Speeds Compared To Riding A Bike

For bikers, Bike Lock Wiki estimates that a beginner cyclist may reach speeds of 8–12 mph (13–19 km/h). Bikers that are intermediate often travel at a pace of 12 to 16 mph (19 to 26 km/h). However, pro riders go at speeds of 16 to 24 mph (26 to 39 kph).

Most experienced cyclists often go at a pace of 23 to 24 mph, whereas most novice riders typically travel at speeds of 16 to 18 mph.

Although these speeds appear remarkable while riding a bike, ice hockey players readily outpace typical riders and compete with more experienced riders.

Very fast speeds are actually possible for ice hockey players to reach on the little ice rink. A typical motorbike has little chance against an ice hockey player, even with skates.

So keep that in mind the next time you watch an ice hockey game: the players are moving faster than the average biker.

Compared To Usain Bolt’s Average And  Top Speed

In March 2022, the Olympics website released a post showing that the average ground speed of Usain Bolt was 35.58 km/h (about 22mph). The Olympics also recorded that the maximum speed of the sprinter is 44.72 km/h (approximately 28mph). 

Let’s compare that with the average and top speed of NHL players. 

The average peak speed of NHL players is 20 mph, which is around two mph slower than the world’s fastest man. The fastest NHL skater has a record of around 41 km/h at peak speeds, though. Comparing this to Bolt’s 44.72 km/h, there isn’t much of a difference.

Fastest NHL Skater (MPH)

Connor McDavid, who holds the record at 27 mph, is the skater who is regarded as being the fastest in the NHL. NHL players seldom reach speeds between 22 and 27 mph.

Even though Connor McDavid is often regarded as the NHL’s fastest skater, there are other players who weigh in on the discussion. People often cite Nathan McKinnon and Matthew Barzal as the two quickest skaters.

Fastest Skaters In The NHL All-Stars Speed Game

NHL All-Star games often feature a competition between players’ abilities and skills. Selected NHL players skate a route around the rink during the NHL speed game, and the skater who completes it in the quickest time is crowned the winner.

For three straight years (2017–2019), Connor McDavid won the All-Stars speed game with a record-breaking time of 13.310s. McDavid finished second to Barzel in the 2020 Speed Game despite not taking first place.

The All-Star speed game champions for the previous seven seasons are shown below.

YearNHL SkaterTime
2023Andrei Svechnikov13.699
2022Jordan Kyrou13.550
2020Matthew Barzel13.175
2019Connor McDavid13.378
2018Connor McDavid13.454
2017Connor McDavid13.310
2016Dylan Larkin13.172

Fastest Ice Hockey Skaters In The NHL By Poll

During the 2017-18 season, the National Hockey League Players Association held a poll so players could decide who the fastest skater in the NHL was. According to the poll, 81% of players voted that McDavid was the fastest player in the NHL.

Here is the result of the NHLPA poll.

NHLPA Poll Data On Fastest Ice  Hockey Skaters
Poll Result From NHLPA 2017-18 Season

5 Fastest Ice Hockey skaters In The NHL 

Fastest NHL Skaters

Here are five of the fastest players in NHL history. These are not arranged in any particular order because the method of measuring players’ speed was not available back in the day. 

Mike Gartner

One of the swiftest skaters of his day was Mike Garner. In 1993 and 1996, respectively, Gartner won the NHL’s Fastest Skater Game. He ran the ice rink course in 13.5610 seconds in 1933, but in 1996 he beat that time by running it in 13.386.

Gartner’s teammates and the defensemen on his opponent’s side found it incredibly difficult to keep up with him because of how taxing and energy-draining his pace was. His elusive pace allowed him to score 708 goals and 1,335 points in his career, which were both career highs.

Bobby Hull

A list of the NHL’s quickest skaters would be incomplete without “Golden Jet” Bobby Hull. Because of the brilliant movement of his golden hair when he was tearing through the ice, he was given the moniker “Golden Jet”.

Popular Mechanics released an article in 1968 that calculated Hull’s speed both with and without a puck. The article claims that Hull can go at 29.7 mph (47.8 km/h) without the puck and 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h) with the puck.

As there were no tools for calculating player speed, the accuracy of the calculations cannot be guaranteed.

Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid could be the NHL’s quickest skater right now. He is the first athlete to win back-to-back All-Stars Fastest Skater Games. He is also the only NHL skater to have won the competition three times.

The Edmonton Oilers’ centerman can reach a top speed of about 41 km/h (25.4 mph; more precisely, 40.9 km/h). The skater claims that his early exposure to rollerblades contributed to his speed.

Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr was another renowned NHL skater. In addition to being quick, he was renowned as the player who moved from one point to another on the ice the fastest. He was a defenseman, but his dexterity in cutting through the ice was stunning to see.

Regrettably, he had frequent knee problems and had to quit early in his career. Throughout his brief career, the quick skater won the Hart Award three times, the Art Ross trophy twice, and the Calder Prize once.

Several people thought Bobby would have accomplished much more if he hadn’t retired due to an injury because he was a speed demon at his peak.

Maurice Richard

Finally, we have Maurice Richard, the skater nicknamed “The Comet”. Later on, he was nicknamed “Rocket”, by his teammate because of the way he dashed through defenders. 

Not only was he a fast skater, but he was also a fantastic forward. Maurice Richard, in all, had a super lustrous career in the NHL and even had an award named after him, “The Rocket Richard Trophy”.

Factors That Affect The Speed Of Ice Hockey Skaters

Factors That Affect The Speed Of Ice Hockey Skaters
  • Hockey Skates
    A player’s skating style might affect how quickly he moves around the ice. As lower skates create less friction with the ice surface, they naturally achieve faster speeds than higher skates.
  • Players’ Weight
    Generally speaking, carrying yourself requires more work, the heavier you are. Hence, heavier players’ bodies slow them down and prevent them from moving more quickly.
  • Condition Of The Ice
    In contrast to soft ice, hard ice is the ideal ice state for skating. simply because hard ice is solid and sturdy, whereas soft ice occasionally includes puddles that can delay skaters.
  • Skating Techniques
    In ice hockey, there are several skating methods. Hence, a player with sound technique will undoubtedly skate faster.


This brings us to the end of this article. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two. With the coming years and the efficiency of training equipment, the speeds that NHL players will attain will increase.

Thanks for reading.

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