One of the hallmarks of Alain Vigneault's Rangers is team speed. In part, Vigneault inherited a good situation, with players like Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin who don't need any help in the skating department. Because the NHL has gone so long without an All-Star game, (one was missed because of the Olympics, and a second due to a lockout), Hagelin is still the league's reigning fastest-skater, having taken home the award in 2012.
We all know Hagelin is really fast, and while that's mostly just conjecture and pure observation, a new company is working on actually measuring player speed. Featured today in Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts column, PowerScout is trying to accomplish that very feet.
15. MacKinnon beat three-time Olympic short-track speed-skating gold medallist Charles Hamelin in a quick race set up by CCM. How much burst does Colorado's tremendous forward have? A company called PowerScout hockey is starting to track both top speed and acceleration through a computer program that uses three cameras set up around a rink.
16. The sample size is small (one-to-six times per player), but growing, and PowerScout (for business reasons) won't allow its videos to be posted. The data I did see was compelling. MacKinnon was not one of the quickest accelerators (Alexander Ovechkin was first among those tracked, followed by Erik Karlsson, Ryan Kesler and Taylor Hall), but only Carl Hagelin had a faster highest speed, at slightly above 37 kilometres per hour. MacKinnon was tied for second, with Phil Kessel. (You can see some of that information here)
That link at the end brings you to a chart that plots both top speed and acceleration. And what it also reveals—in as Friedman puts it, a small sample size—is that while Hagelin may not be the quickest accelerator, he does have a top-gear unmatched by his fellow players.
Also take note that both Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash are listed under top acceleration. Nash is always accused of note skating hard, but this season he's been healthy, and he also definitely falls victim to the fact that he takes bigger strides, which, with skating, can mask how fast a player is moving.
Friedman goes on to provide more context for the league's top skaters, and confirm another thing many observe when watching Hagelin: he's always motoring.
17. Not yet public is tracking indicating how much a player skates at a pace above 20 kilometres per hour. I saw a little bit of that information. Only three men stayed at that speed more than 40 percent of the time with at least 10 minutes of five-on-five play. They were Hagelin (44.2 per cent of 13:36), Sidney Crosby (42.4 of 19:19) and Joe Colborne (41.7 of 12:29).
Absent from the PowerScout chart is Kreider, who we'll assume was moving too fast for the cameras to register.