2016 NHL Draft Radar: Luke Kunin

If you aren’t above six feet tall in your draft year, it doesn’t matter the players that played before you, you will be questioned about your size. Luke Kunin at 5’11 has been hearing rumbles about his size in the days leading up to the draft. Does it really matter? As a smaller player it is tough to get drafted in the first round, Kunin just might do it.

Kunin is the eleventh ranked North American skater according to the NHL CS Rankings.

The Stats

Kunin as a freshman, nearly hit the very important point per game plateau in the NCAA. A lot of truly great players hit it before entering the draft. Although he didn’t hit it, he still has a bright future ahead of him. He has age against him with a December birthday and he didn’t have that impressive of a year with the US National Development team the year before. Where Kunin really comes into his own is the eye test, where his electrifying plays have scouts drooling.

The Eye Test

Steve Kournianos of TheDraftAnalyst.com was very confident in the first round grade of Kunin:

“Figuring out which 2016 draft prospects will have the honor of being called first round picks may not be as tough as in previous years. But Wisconsin forward Luke Kunin, the sharpshooting St. Louis product who flew somewhat under the radar while playing two seasons for the NTDP, is a virtual lock to get his named called on the draft’s opening night.

An honest, clean player with very good speed and strength, Kunin is natural goal scorer, blessed with a laser of a shot and excellent instincts. He was unstoppable at last year’s U18 World Championships, scoring six goals in seven games without the benefit of playing on the top line. He’s been just as prolific as a freshman for the rebuilding Badgers, who entrusted him with top line duties. He’s taken advantage of the NCAA schedule by hitting the weights, and you can tell by the way he’s been plastering collegiate opponents. Kunin is an excellent skater who is always looking for his shot – a process which doesn’t take a lot of time to bear results. Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves has raved about his maturity and leadership, and the fact that Kunin continues to improve while fighting Type 1 Diabetes tells us there’s more to his game than just scoring.”

The website Future Considerations had nice things to say about Kunin:

“A slick and solid overall centre that plays hard in all three zones. Has some exlposive 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.”

Does he fit in with the Red Wings?

If you watched the highlights above, Kunin dominated a pretty weak Big 10 this year. His Wisconsin team was near the bottom of the league and he was still able to make a difference. He has high end potential and the position of center is pretty weak for the Wings prospect pipeline. While best player available is normally the case, Kunin could kill two birds with one stone. If the Wings don’t go defense, don’t be surprised if the Wings take a U.S. based forward a la Dylan Larkin.

Player Oddity

Luke Kunin does not pay for pictures. That is a damn fact. He will take your proofs.