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2016 NHL Draft prospect profile: Luke Kunin showed off his quick release in NCAA action

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Kunin surprised many with his play in the NCAA this season, and might surprise again in the NHL Entry Draft.

Jen Fuller/Getty Images

A freshmen for the University of Wisconsin, Luke Kunin had a stand-out first season, playing in the NCAA Big 10 Conference where the Badgers tend to do well. This year was more difficult than usual for the team, despite his late-period heroics.

The former U18 captain for the United States scored 19 goals in 34 games this season, leading his team in that category, and finished one point shy of the team lead with his 32 points.

This will be his first year of NHL draft eligibility, and Kunin is expected to make the most of it by being selected at the tail end of the first round.

Birthplace: Chesterfield, MO
Shoots: Right
Position: Centre / Left Wing
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 193 lbs.

Kunin is generally regarded as a very intelligent two-way player on the ice who likes to drive the offence and can either dish the puck or put it home with his deadly snap shot. Beyond offensive instincts is a general awareness of his surroundings which lead to a strong defensive game as well, battling hard for puck possession.

Along with displaying talent on the ice, Luke is something of a leader in the locker room, wearing the A for Team USA at the under-17 championship, and earning the C for the U18 tournament. With leadership responsibilities comes maturity, which is usually sought after by NHL general managers at the draft.


Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects (2015)

A highly intelligent and offensively gifted forward. Has a keen eye for scoring opportunities and has shown flashes of elite-level finishing capability. Works hard and isn't afraid to battle for puck possession. Good hands and puck skills, and has a really accurate release on his shot. Needs to work on his explosiveness, staying in motion with the play, and strength behind his shot. All-in-all, a gifted offensive force with the potential to blossom into a highlight reel player.

Future Considerations

A slick and solid overall centre that plays hard in all three zones. Has some explosive feet and tremendous speed generated in only a few quick strides. His shot is on and off his blade in only a split second and shows outstanding velocity and accuracy. He also shows impressive reads of developing plays and the vision and creativity to make a play out of nothing. Does not slouch defensively as he comes back and disrupts the opponents attack. A slick possession player with quick hands and a quicker mind.

Hockey Prospect (2015)

He is another of the handful of NTDP-18 players that falls after the 9/15 cut off. He has decent size although he will still need to do some filling out at the NCAA level while at Wisconsin. He can score goals and shows good offensive knowhow and smarts in the zone. He can shoot the puck, and although doesn't have high-end stick skills, he is still pretty crafty.


Future Considerations: 20th

ISS: 18th

Central Scouting service: 18th (North American skaters)

Hockey Prospect: 23rd

DraftBuzz Hockey: 14th


The Draft Analyst: 12th


Kunin certainly has shown some top-end offensive skill that places him mid to late first round of the draft. The Badgers' poor season might have saddled him with a bit of baggage, hence the low ranking, but his on-ice creativity and shot release surely raised the eyebrows of more than one scout. The fact that he is currently battling Type-1 Diabetes might scare a few teams away, but it's not overly optimistic to start listening for his name being called after the first 10 selections.