Top 15 Best Skaters in NHL History

It's the plight of many a promising hockey player.

Exquisite hands. Extraordinary vision. A rifle of a shot. Off-the-charts hockey sense. Strong as an ox.

But slow.

In the 70s and 80s, you might have gotten away with it. Not anymore, though. The "Fastest Game on Earth" has become exactly that, and without speed, the NHL might as well be Mars for many hockey players: attainable, if it weren't for that one major obstacle.

Of course, for every plodder there's a speedster, a gazelle on blades who can reach top speed within a matter of seconds. One second, they're in front of you - the next, they're behind you streaking towards your net. No matter how big or strong the players on your roster are, there's no substitute for speed in today's NHL. Hook and grab if you'd like, but you'll be spending half the game on the penalty kill.

Even though the quality of skating has risen exponentially in the past decade, there's no ignoring the pioneers of the art. The technique, style and equipment might have evolved over time, but there's no denying that some of the classics could flat out fly - some of them even faster than today's player, whose blessed with lighter, higher quality gear that is engineered to squeeze out every last mile-per-hour that a player can generate.

The players on this list have awed us not only with their talents with the puck on their stick, but also through their elegance, grace and raw power in careening around the ice at breakneck speeds - and making it look easy in the process.

15 Carl Hagelin

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

We'd be remiss if we did not add diminutive New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin to this list. After all, if we look solely at the one timed speed-based event the NHL holds every year - the NHL's Faster Skater competition at the All-Star game - then Hagelin should be atop this list as the event's current record-holder. Hagelin put the league on notice at the 2012 All-Star game with an incredible 13.218 second run, just beating out former title-holder Mike Gartner.

14 Scott Niedermayer


13 Marian Gaborik

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

12 Erik Karlsson

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

When legends like Bobby Orr are singing your praises, you know you're doing something right:

""The kid has wonderful speed. Great, great hockey sense," Orr told the Ottawa Sun in 2011. "You get a kid who can skate like that and you let him go."

11 Peter Bondra


10 Joe Sakic


9 Gilbert Perreault


8 Jean Béliveau


7 Mike Gartner


Mike Gartner is the epitome of the "speed demon" label. A 17-time 30-goal scorer, Gartner used his blazing speed to leave defenders spinning throughout the entirety of his NHL career - emphasis on entirety. Most players lose a step in their 30's; somehow, Gartner managed to find a way to not only keep his speed, but go even faster. He's one of the four players to win the Fastest Skater contest twice, and he won his two titles at the ages of 33 and 36.

6 Bobby Hull


5 Paul Coffey


If it wasn't for the likes of Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey might be considered the greatest offensive defenseman of all-time (even with the points record, many still consider Orr the best).

4 Guy Lafleur


3 Sergei Fedorov


2 Pavel Bure


1 Bobby Orr


No surprise here, right?

If you've ever seen the video of Bobby Orr keeping the puck during an entire Bruins penalty kill, then you know why Orr is at the top of this list. Orr is without a doubt the most talented skater the league has ever seen - and that was before you saw him dangle around would-be defenders with ease despite being at top-speed. Like Bure, knee problems slowed Orr down, but there are few arguments can be made against Orr's unparalleled talent.

Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in NHL

Top 15 Best Skaters in NHL History