How fast can ice hockey players skate? (and who’s the fastest)

Hockey is called the fastest game in the world. If you ever get a chance to watch an NHL game within a few rows of the ice you will be stunned at how fast they actually do move. Some of this is lost by watching it from the seats at the top of the stadium or on television. 

How fast can ice hockey players skate? The fastest hockey players reach top speeds of approximately 25mp/h or 40km/h. While in game action they would play in the range of 20 to 25mph to 30 to 40km/h. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers is acknowledged as the fastest skater in the NHL. 

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The NHL is on the precipice of being able to accurately measure and release a whole new slate of data and statistics on players. Players will soon be wearing computer chips in their sweaters that will test them for many new measures including how fast they are going at all times.

We still have some data on how fast players go, but not as much and not as accurately as we will have in a few years.

But that still does not stop us from getting some good data on how fast players are moving on the ice, and who the fastest players are.

Winners of the Fastest Skater at All-Star Skills Competition 

The NHL fastest skater competition is one of the best at the all-star game. There are no tricks or gimmicks. Each player in the competition skates a full lap around the ice and the winner is the player with the lowest time. 

The NHL does not release average speed or top speed results, but if you watch the competition you will get an approximate number for the top speed. 

So in the list below each of the players the high end speed they reach in the competition is 25mp/h or 40 km/h 

Here are the last 5 winners of the Faster Skater All-Star Skills Competition

2020Mathew Barzal13.175
2019Connor McDavid13.378
2018Connor McDavid13.454
2017Connor McDavid13.31
2016Dylan Larkin13.172

2019 world Ice hockey championships fastest skating times

Even though the NHL has not started to release the top speed numbers of players during the game, another association has. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), who is responsible for the World Championships and Olympic hockey started measuring the top speeds of the players at the 2019 world Ice Hockey Championships.

Here is a list of the players with the top speeds during the competition

PlayerCountrySpeed KM/H
Ronald KeninsLatvis41.32
Leon DraisaitlGermany39.94
Frederik TiffelsGermany39.61
Marek HovorkaSlovakia39.58
Patrick KaneUSA39.26
Adrian KempeSweden39.16
Tristan SchewweySwitzerland38.99
Connor McDavidCanada38.91
Kasperi KapanenFinland38.75
Miro HeiskanenFinland38.63

As you can see the data that the IIHF is releasing corresponds with what are thinking that the tops speeds will be peaking in the 25 mph or 40 kmh range. 

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Who is the fastest skater in the NHL?

As you probably notice the fastest skater competition has been won by Connor McDavid in 3 of the past 4 years. And, the past year he finished second in the race to Mathew Barzal. 

Barzal is blazing fast himself but he was surprised that he beat McDavid. He claimed that he skated the perfect lap, and wasn’t sure that he could even do it again. You could tell that it was a big honour for him to be able to beat McDavid in this competition. 

At this point the best answer to the question of who the fastest skater is probably comes from the players themselves. The NHLPA did a poll in 2017-18 where they asked all the players in the league who they thought was the fastest player was.

Here are the results of the poll.

PlayerPercentage of Votes
Connor McDavid81.0 %
Michael Grabner3.6%
Nick Leddy2.4%
Dylan Larkin2.2%
Chris Kreider1.6%

That is amazing. 81% of NHL players voted for Connor McDavid as the fastest player in the league. The next closest was 3%. 

That is a landslide. No other category in the poll had such a unanimous vote. 

I think with McDavid’s track record it is safe to say that Connor McDavid is the fastest player in the NHL. 

Who is the fastest player ever in the NHL?

According to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Bobby Hull was measured at 29.2 mph or 47 kmh. Seeing the numbers we have looked at during the All-Star skills competition and IIHF world championships makes that number other-worldly.

I knew he was fast, but I never imagined he was that fast.

Bobby Hull was named the Golden Jet for his blonde hair racing through the wind as he skated down the ice.  People who watched him play said that he would simply cruise past other players. 

I guess it makes sense why they named a hockey team after him – the Winnipeg Jets.  

Related Questions

How fast do speed skaters go? 

Speed skaters do go faster than hockey players. They have different types of skates, which have no ankle support, and specially designed aerodynamic suits. 

When speed skaters get onto an open stretch of ice they can get up to 35 mph or 55 kph.

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