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 requires a good amount of upper body strength as the legs and thigh work more than the rest of the body. In a game as fast as hockey, the speed at which you are able to skate past your opponent gives way to several game opportunities to score a goal. 

The blazing speeds you can find in NHL games can range from 10-45km/h. Also, the rate at which players speed up is spontaneous, which is why ice hockey is considered the fastest game in sports. 

When ice hockey players skate at top speeds, blinking holds the risk of missing out on a swift movement.

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 are surprisingly fast while skating. The average ice hockey player in the NHL has an average speed of 10-20mph. This is equivalent to 16-32km/h. 

But that is just for average NHL players. When we move to the skating speed of the fastest players in the NHL, we look at players who skate at daring speeds of 21-27mhp (equivalent to 33-43km/h)

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

Ice Hockey Speeds Compared To Riding A Bike

According to Bike Lock Wiki,  a newbie to cycling generates speeds of about 8-12mph (13-19km/h). Intermediate bikers usually have an average speed of about 12-16mph (19-26km/h). At the same time, advanced bikers move at speeds of 16-24mph (26-39km/h)

Generally, the average speed of most advanced bikers is 23-24mph, while most average bikers at their top speed fall around 16mph. 

Even though these speeds seem impressive on a bike, ice hockey players easily surpass the speeds of average bikers and compete with advanced bikers. 

The explosive speeds ice hockey players can achieve within the confined space of the ice rink are indeed incredible. Even with skates, your average biker does not stand a chance with an ice hockey player.

So next time you watch an ice hockey match, know they are going faster than your average cyclist.

Compared To Usain Bolt’s Average And  Top Speed

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

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

The difference between the average peak speed of NHL players (20mph) and that of the world’s fastest man has a difference of about two mph. However, when we move to top speeds, the fastest NHL skater has a record of approximately 41km/h. This is very little different compared with the 44.72km/h of Bolt. 

Fastest NHL Skater (MPH)

The player considered the fastest skater in the NHL is Conner McDavid, and he holds the record of 27mph. Not many NHL players come close to speeds of 22-27mph. 

Even though Conner McDavid is considered to be the fastest skater in the NHL, there are other players who join in the debate. Nathan McKinnon and Matthew Barzal are two skaters who people consider to be the fastest skaters.

Fastest Skaters In The NHL All-Stars Speed Game

During All-Star games of the NHL, there is usually a showdown of the skills and talents of players. During the NHL speed game, selected NHL players skate a course around the rink, and the skater that completes it in the least possible time is declared the winner. 

Connor McDavid won the All-Stars speed game for three consecutive seasons (2017-2019), with his record-best being 13.310s. Even though McDavid did not win the Speed game in 2020, he came second next to Barzel.

Here is a list of the winners of the All-Star speed game for seven consecutive seasons.

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. From 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

Mike Garner was one of the fastest skaters of his time. During his career, Gartner won the fastest skater game of the NHL twice: in 1993 and 1996. In 1933 he completed the ice rink course in 13.5610 seconds, and in 1996, he broke his record and completed it in 13.386. 

Gartner’s speed was known to be exhausting and energy draining as both defensemen of his opponent team and his teammate found it extremely tasking to keep up with him. However, his evasive speed led him to score a  career-high 708 goals and 1,335 career points.

Bobby Hull

We can’t make a list of the fastest skaters in the NHL without including the “Golden Jet” Bobby Hull. He was nicknamed the Golden Jet because of the blazing movement of his blonde hair when he was tearing through the ice.

In 1968, a story was published by Popular Mechanics, and the story calculated the speed of Hull with and without a puck. According to the publication, Hull’s speeds reach 29.7mph (47.8km/h) without the puck and 28.3mph (45.5km/h) with a puck. 

However, the validity of the calculations is not guaranteed as there were not facilities to calculate the speed of players.

Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid is arguably the fastest skater currently in the NHL. He is the first player to win the All-Stars fastest skater game consecutively. Also, he is the first skater in the NHL to win the tournament three times. 

The centerman of the Edmonton Oilers has a peak speed of approximately 41km/h (more accurately, 40.9km/h and equivalently 25.4mph). The skater says his speed comes from his exposure to rollerblades growing up. 

Bobby Orr

Another legendary skater in the NHL was Bobby Orr. He was not only fast but was known as the fastest player who could glide over the ice from one point to another. Although he was a defenseman, his skillfulness in dashing through the ice was a beauty to behold. 

Unfortunately, he retired early in his career due to recurring knee injuries. The brisk skater won Calder Trophy and the Art Ross trophy twice, and the Hart trophy thrice in his short career. 

Bobby was a speed demon in his prime, and many believed he would have achieved much more if he didn’t retire due to an injury.

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
    The type of skates a player uses can impact his speed on the ice. Naturally, lower skates produce higher speeds than high skates because they generate less friction with the ice surface.
  • Players’ Weight
    Typically, the more you weigh, the more effort is needed to carry yourself. Therefore, players who weigh more have their bodies, slowing them down from moving faster.
  • Condition Of The Ice
    Hard ice is the perfect ice condition for skating compared to soft ice. Simply because soft ice sometimes has puddles which can slow down skaters, whereas hard ice is solid and firm.
  • Skating Techniques
    There are different techniques of skating in ice hockey. Therefore, a player with good technique will surely have increased speed while skating.


So this brings us to the end of this article. I hope you’ve learnt 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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