SAN JOSE, Calif. – Other NHL players have held the title of the NHL’s fastest player. Connor McDavid actually owns it.
For the third consecutive season the Edmonton Oilers superstar won the fastest-skater event at the NHL Skills Competition. He neared nicked the boards on his turn and still turned in a time of 13.378, not far off his best time of 13:02 set in 2017.
“Some guys like doing this and some guys don’t,” McDavid said. “Personally, I like doing it. It’s always fun.”
What makes this result noteworthy is that McDavid is considered the league’s fastest player. He’s not just the fastest player of the group assembled. If you want a better understanding of how fast he is, watch him jet up the ice with the puck on his stick.
What makes his speed more spectacular is that McDavid can make plays while leaving defenders in his wake.
Zdeno Chara won the hardest shot competition five consecutive seasons, and it’s possible McDavid could surpass that mark in the fastest-skater category. Unless he is injured, he’s almost a lock to be an All-Star every season. It is unlikely anyone will beat him in the near future.
McDavid’s win was among the highlights of the Friday night competition. Here are other good and bad happenings in the Skills Competition:
Good: Before the last event, Auston Matthews played to the San Jose crowd by peeling off his own jersey to reveal he was wearing a Patrick Marleau Toronto Maple Leafs jersey underneath. Marleau was a very popular player when he played for the Sharks.
“Last night, I was at dinner with family and thought it’d be a great idea,” Matthews said. “They made a jersey up quick this morning and I had it ready when I went there. He does so much for myself for me and the team.”
The crowd responded with a loud ovation.
“It was amazing. I wasn’t expecting that. It was a testament to how much of a legend he is here,” Matthews said. “All the cheering got me so nervous, I forgot there were five targets.”
Bad: Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen suffering a scary fall when he competed in the fastest-skater competition. If he had been injured, it might have changed how we look at that event.
“That was a bad fall,” McDavid said. “It was really awkward. We were all happy he was OK. Credit to him for going back out there and putting up another pretty good time.”
McDavid said he always checks his edges before competing in this event.
Good: Washington defenseman John Carlson saved the hardest-shot competition by winning with a rip of 102.8 mph. With no Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber or Alex Ovechkin in the event, it lacked star power. But Carlson satisfied the crowd with a mighty blast. It was the first time his shot had been clocked since he was a teenager. Carlson doesn’t put himself in a class with Chara and Weber. He said Chara once broke his shin guard with a shot. “That’s a whole different league,” he said.
Bad: Trolls on social media suggesting that the decision to allow former U.S. women hockey gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield to compete in the fastest-skater contest made a mockery of the event. C’mon folks. This is an exhibition, a night of fun, not the Stanley Cup Final. Fans chanted, “USA, USA, USA” as she lined up to skate. Everyone was curious about how she performed. She skated impressively, finishing ahead of Clayton Keller to place seventh.
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Good: Johnny Gaudreau won his second consecutive puck control title, edging fellow American Patrick Kane by a little more than 1.5 seconds. Did everyone notice how prominent Americans were in this competition? Jack Eichel was second to McDavid in the skating contest
Bad: No Sidney Crosby to go with Ovechkin. We learned a while ago that Ovechkin wasn’t coming by choice, but Crosby missed the competition because of illness. He does intend to play on Saturday. But it’s never good for fans when two of the NHL’s top three highest-profile players are missing.