The NHL Skills Competition is a chance for NHL players to put their skills to the test and demonstrate why they are the best in the league through numerous challenges.
The Skills Competition takes place during NHL All-Star weekend each year, with the events differing from year to year. In 2020, the competition included six different events.
The fastest skater competition is the most straightforward event. Eight players compete in this event to see who is the fastest. Each player is timed while skating around the rink one time. While each player only skates one lap, they can choose their starting point and the direction in which they wish to skate.
This event requires goalies to save as many shots in a row as they can in a shootout. There are four goalies and 36 skaters that participate in the competition. Each goalie attempts to save at least nine shots and the shots increase depending on how long they can keep up the "save streak." If the two top goalies achieve the same save streak, the goalie with the most total saves during his turn wins the challenge.
This challenge puts the player's accuracy to the test. Eight players attempt to shoot at targets on an LED screen that is 25 feet away on the goal line. The player that hits every target the fastest wins the challenge.
This event measures the speed of the player's shots. In the challenge, a minimum of four players shoot the puck at the goal from 30 feet out as hard as they can. Players are allowed to start as far back as the nearest blue line and skate towards the puck before hitting it. Each player takes two shots and the shot with the higher speed of the two is counted. In order for the shot speed to be measured by the radar, the shot must make it in the goal. If a shot is made but its speed is not recorded by the radar, the player is able to take an additional shot.
This event is new to the NHL Skills Competition. The participants include eight male NHL players along with two female players selected by polling on social media. Each participant stands on a platform that is elevated 30 feet above the ice and behind the goal. The objective is for the players to shoot pucks towards targets that are placed on the ice. Each target is worth a varying amount of points. To settle a tie, players must shoot three more pucks towards the targets and whoever scores more points wins the challenge.
Similar to the Shooting Stars event, this challenge is also new to the Skills Competition. As the name suggests, this event involves a 3-on-3 match that includes American and Canadian Women's All-Star players. The match consists of two periods each lasting 10 minutes and a running clock. If a penalty is committed, a penalty shot is automatically awarded.
In 2020, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks won the Shooting Star challenge. Mathew Barzal from the New York Islanders won the Fastest Skater competition. The Canadian All-Stars took home the victory in the Elite Women's 3-on-3 game. Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens recorded a shot at 106.5 mph to win the Hardest Shot competition. Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues won the Save Streak competition with 10 consecutive saves. Finally, Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes won the Accuracy Shooting challenge.
Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins recorded the fastest shot in the 2012 NHL Skills Competition at 108.8 mph. Chara has won the Hardest Shot competition a total of five times during his career. However, in the 2020 AHL All-Star Skills Competition, Martin Frk of the Ontario Reign surpassed Chara's record with a shot that clocked in at 109.2 mph. Although he is not in the NHL, Frk broke the record of the fastest shot recorded of all time.
At the 2016 NHL Skills Competition, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings broke the record for the Fastest Skater competition at 13.172 seconds. This time has faced some controversy over the years because Larkin began his lap from the blue line and gained momentum before reaching the red line starting point. Some believe that Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers would hold the record if he started at the blue line instead of the red line.
The Save Streak competition was introduced in the 2018 NHL Skills Competition. Since then, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights holds the record with 14 consecutive saves in 2018. Fleury beat Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators who saved 13 consecutive shots in the event. In the following two years, Henrik Lundqvist won the event in 2019 with 12 consecutive saves and Jordan Binnington won in 2020 with 10 consecutive saves.