Speed kills (opponents) in the New NHL, and Buffalo's top scorer last season (22 goals, career-best 51 assists, 73 points) frequently lights the lamp off the rush. Blessed with a shifty knack for making defenders look silly, he personifies the Sabres: young, talented and extremely mobile.
2 of 18David E. Klutho/SI
A two-time winner of the All-Star fastest skater competition, nimble Niedermayer has speed in his genes (his mother was a power-skating instructor). He was also tutored by NHL skating guru Laura Stamm. Breathtakingly efficient, he needs few strides to cover a lot of ice while rushing the puck (career-high 63 points last season) or intercepting the other team's swiftest forwards.
3 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
Only the most masochistic defenders relish trying to contain the Thrasher flash one-on-one when he's at full speed. The first overall pick of 2001 is an elite sniper with superb instincts and a wicked shot who hit career highs and set team records with 52 goals and 98 points last season.
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Like a Maserati on the Autobahn, Gaborik can put the pedal down for an added burst of acceleration. The 2003 All-Star fastest skater set a franchise mark of 38 goals in 2005-06, his third 30-plus goal campaign. The addition of Pavol Demitra will free up more room for him to move -- quickly -- this season.
5 of 18Nick Laham/Getty Images
A gritty, capable two-way player, Walz, 36, can still leave much younger guns in his wake. Coming off a career-high 19-goal, 37-point season, the hardworking 11-year veteran will see time between Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra this season as the catalyst of the Wild's dangerous top line.
6 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
Martin St. Louis
Fearless, shifty St. Louis is a 5-foot-9 waterbug with a flair for zipping through traffic and tight spots with uncanny puck control. Skating with potent center Vincent Lecavalier turned him into a Hart Trophy winner (2003-04) while bringing the Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay.
7 of 18Bill Wippert/SI
Drafted second overall by San Jose in 1997, Marleau is 6-2, 220-pound freight train that roars by defenders. The Sharks' captain hit career highs of 34 goals, 52 assists and 86 points last season. During the preseason he centered a line with 235-pound Steve Bernier and 225-pound Milan Michalek that should be a load to stop.
8 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
Strong, elusive and packing greasy game-breaking speed, Hossa has five consecutive 30-plus-goal seasons to his credit (he scored 46 in 2005-06). Lethal on special teams, he tied for second in the NHL with 14 power-play tallies and was nerve-wracking to contain with a man advantage, topping the league with seven short-handed goals.
9 of 18David E. Klutho/SI
Another speedster of almost effortless efficiency, Modano has used his size (6-3, 210) and two-way versatility to become the Stars' all-time leader in 30-goal seasons (nine) and power-play scores (135). The first overall pick in the 1988 draft is still going strong -- and fast. He led the Stars with 77 points last season.
10 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
The diminutive (5-10, 175) 11-year veteran remains one of the NHL's most explosive skaters. Able to reach full speed with his first few strides, he is extremely elusive, a quality that allows him to avoid punishing hits. One of only two Predators to suit up for all 82 games last season, Kariya led the team in scoring with franchise marks of 31 goals, 54 assists and 85 points.
11 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
Blessed with sizzling up-and-down speed on the wing, "the Flying Finn" won the fastest skater competition at the 2000 and '02 All-Star Games. Yet another waterbug (5-9, 181), the Flyers' top transition player is a five-time 20-goal scorer with superb defensive skills -- so much so that coach Ken Hitchcock has considered putting him on the blue line.
12 of 18Bob Rosato/SI
Like Scott Niedermayer, skating is all in the family for Hedican, whose father was a power-skating teacher and whose wife is Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi. A formidable defender and transition ace, he's blessed with tremendous leg strength, a powerful stride and the ability to change direction in the blink of a watering eye.
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This year's fifth overall draft pick has jets to spare and a sonic-boom shot. He should have a robust rookie campaign skating on a line with creative center Marc Savard (Ilya Kovalchuk's former puck-supply guy in Atlanta) and winger Glen Murray.
14 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
A swift, feisty checker, Blake bristles with energy and attitude that make him a pest at both ends of the rink. The versatile, pint-sized (5-10, 180) winger is a special-teams threat coming off career highs in goals (28), power-play goals (12), points (57) and shots (304).
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He has yet to become the consistently potent offensive threat he was expected to be after he was drafted 11th overall by the Sharks in 1994, but the durable, five-time 20-goal scorer has good hands to go with his slick wheels, and a clutch streak in the playoffs.
16 of 18Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Sturm means "storm" in German, and this one blows in with superb puck-handling skills and vision that make him particularly valuable on special teams. He gives Boston more speed to go with rookie rocket Phil Kessel and has reached the 20-plus goal mark in each of the past four seasons.
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He's dazzlingly fast, and tends to play at one speed (high), but has been maddeningly unproductive. Calgary's first-round pick (sixth overall) in 1998 is still seeking his first 20-goal season. But his potential has allure for the struggling Capitals.
18 of 18Dave Sandford/Getty Images
A chimera is an imaginary monster made up of disparate parts. This Chimera has size (6-2, 204), blurry speed and a bit of fiery bite to his game but has yet to put them all together to maximum effect. Like Jason Blake, he's a solid forechecker, as well as a valuable penalty-killer who had career highs in goals (17), assists (13), points (30) and penalty minutes (95) last season.
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