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A late 1997 birthday, Luke Kunin was the captain of the US NTDP U-18 program last year and helped lead the squad to a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Under 18 Hockey Championships. He scored six goals in seven games in a very impressive performance in the tournament. It was his second major international award with the US NTDP, as he was also part of the US NTDP U17 team that won gold at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in 2014. This year he had a solid freshman season with the Wisconsin Badgers, putting up an impressive 19 goals and 13 assists for 32 points in 34 games. Kunin was named to the Big Ten All-Rookie team. He also played at last September’s All-American Top Prospects Game, and had an impressive performance on the top line picking up two goals and an assist.
Luke Kunin Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #18
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born Dec 4 1997 — Chesterfield, MO
Height 5’11” — Weight 188 lbs [180 cm/85 kg]
Luke Kunin shows high level hockey IQ. He seems to always make the right play with the puck on his stick. Without it, he is able to find openings in the defence and set up to fire a wrist shot, snap shot or one-timer. Kunin’s release is quick and shot is heavy, fooling goaltenders. He can also score goals in front of the net, with quick hands to pounce on rebounds, and the hand-eye co-ordination to tip-in shots. Kunin also shows the good stick handling to protect the puck, extend plays and work in the cycle game. He protects the puck well with his body. Kunin also has the vision and passing skills to set up others, making tape-to-tape passes when he finds a linemate open. He plays an intense game getting involved in board battles and in front of the net. He could stand to improve his strength, and add muscle to his frame, this would make him more effective in the cycle game, in board battles, and give even more power to his shot. He has the versatility to play both centre and on the wing.
Kunin could stand to work on his skating. Once he gets going he has good speed, but could use some work on his first few steps and acceleration going forward. This would help him to win more footraces and pounce on loose pucks. Kunin’s agility and edgework are good, so he should be able to improve that first step. Kunin also has good balance, and a strong stride, allowing him to fight through checks and get to the front of the net. This would be another area that can get even better if he can add some more strength to his frame, especially in his core.
Kunin is defensively responsible, bringing this intensity to his own zone as well. He’s been used as a penalty killer for Wisconsin, and is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots or cut down passing lanes. His high hockey IQ translates into his defensive play, as he reads the play extremely well, and his ability to anticipate what attackers will do with the puck leads to his ability to create turnovers and start the transition game. Kunin is effective in the face-off circle.
Luke Kunin will likely find himself back at Wisconsin next season. He can use his time to continue to improve his skating, as well as to add some of that much needed muscle to his frame. Kunin could blossom into an effective two-way centre, playing in the top six, but also working in a checking role. His game is similar to Mike Fisher, however this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill level.
The following is a compilation of Luke Kunin’s highlights found on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #20 prospect on our 2016 NHL Draft Board.