ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24-25. Luke Kunin is the No. 11-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.
Slow to start but strong to finish, Luke Kunin, a University of Wisconsin freshman, was not hesitant to leave his mark as the leading goal scorer for the 2015-16 season.
Ranked second in scoring for Wisconsin, Kunin finished with 32 points in 34 games played, one short of teammate Grant Besse’s 33-point total.
The 18-year-old closed out his first college season with 19 goals and 13 assists, which helped him get named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. Kunin did not disappoint during his first year as a Badger, registering five power-play tallies and four markers scored in the last minute of periods.
The left wing has become one of the Badgers’ key players. His maturity and quick-to-get-things-done attitude has allowed him to grow into a strong and prominent role on the team.
"At the start of the year I wanted to be a go-to guy on this team," Kunin said to Andy Baggot of UWBadgers.com. "I wanted to help lead the team as a young guy. That's something that drove me this whole year. I wanted to be the best player I could be every night."
Seven of Kunin’s 18 NCAA goals gave the Badgers the lead and seven others erased a deficit, helping the freshman finish 11th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final 2016 Draft rankings.
“I want to become a 200-foot player,” Kunin said to NHL.com. “I keep working on the offensive side of my game along with the little defensive details.”
There is no doubt that the 6-foot, 193-pound forward is a dependable player. Kunin showcased his talent by scoring nine of his goals in the first minute or last minute of periods. These types of tallies are particularly important because they give the team momentum to either start the period off strong or to come into the next one at full-force.
“He’s the type of guy who wants to sit and watch his shifts after every weekend. He goes and works with our trainers on his own for extra workouts,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves told NHL.com. “He’s very focused on his goals.”
Kunin thrives on the ice, as well as in academics. The Chesterfield, Missouri, native graduated high school in three years while playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 Team. During his tenure, he captained Team USA to a gold medal at the 2015 Under-18 World Championship.
After the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, New York, Kunin will look to the Badgers’ new head coach Tony Granato for a leading role on the team for his sophomore year. Granato, a former head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, can expect hard work from Kunin next season if his freshman campaign is any indicator.