It seems almost too obvious to point out, but the fact of the matter is the NHL is a league of skating. The better you can skate, the better you can play.
So, when you flip through the scouting reports of the first player the Golden Knights selected in the Draft this year, there’s good reason for concern. Here are just a few snippets about the 48th overall pick, Matyas Sapovaliv.
His lack of speed doesn’t just affect him in the defensive zone or when coming off of the walls either. His lack of top-end north-south speed forces him to make plays at half speeds more often than a lot of other forwards in transition. –NHL Black Book
He lacks agility and explosiveness, and despite his strong two-way play, he needs to skate backward quicker to improve his defensive abilities. If he wants his offensive prowess to translate to the faster AHL and NHL level, he needs to improve his skating. -Sean Raggio, TheHockeyWriters.com
Will need to improve his mobility and processing speed as he matures but has middle-six NHL potential. -Nick Richard, DobberProspects.com
Literally, every in-depth scouting report on Sapovaliv mentions his below-average skating.
It was evident to the Golden Knights too. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Bob Lowes mentioned he and his staff understand the issues with his skating. He also said he believes it’s correctable and that’s why he became a Golden Knight.