2016 NHL Draft: A Closer Look at Luke Kunin

LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND – APRIL 21: USA’s Luke Kunin #9 celebrates after a first period goal against Germany during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.
Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images

The 2015 All-American Prospects Game became the unveiling of center Luke Kunin very quickly on Thursday night. The 2016 NHL Draft eligible Wisconsin commit scored two goals and had a terrific assist to London Knight Matthew Tkachuk. The chemistry with the linemates-for-the-night looked as if the pair had a whole season to build on it.

Both played exceptionally well despite being on the losing end at the end of the game. It seemed like the Most Outstanding Player was just a fight between the pair. That is until Luke McInnis scored the game-winning goal for Team Plante.

They play of Kunin should have earned him the MVP of the All-American Prospects game. He played as if he had played the game 1,000 times beforehand. His moves made without hesitation, and they were all good looks.

On Tkachuk’s goal, Kunin collected the puck in the corner and without a doubt in his mind threw the pass to Matthew Tkachuk in the slot.

When Kunin was shooting he wasn’t overthinking it either. On his first goal he knew he couldn’t get the pass to Tkachuk so he got a good look at Sarthou and ripped one high glove. On Kunin’s 2nd goal, he won the faceoff and proceeded to make his way towards the blue line where he waited for Tkachuk to make the play to him. He sprang free up the middle and went high glove again. This time on Ryan Edquist.

Kunin has developed his hard, accurate shot while with the United States Development Team. He can produce a powerful shot from down low or a long, accurate shot from the point or higher in the slot.

His success with playmaking and passing in the offensive zone has always been able to get the job done. It wasn’t until Thursday night that Kunin showed extreme upside in the department of dishing the puck. If he can keep making plays like he did at the All-American Prospects Game at Wisconsin, Luke Kunin will make his way into the top 15.

Only at Wisconsin, Kunin will not be able to play with Matthew Tkachuk.

Luke Kunin has known Matthew Tkachuk for a while now though. Both played for the St. Louis AAA Blues U16 team in 2012 and 2013. There they grew chemistry and Tkachuk started to support Kunin, who suffers from type 1 diabetes.

Tkachuk went as far as to make a fake ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Kunin’s fight with diabetes and playing hockey.

What Kunin will need to develop and work on is his adaptation to the game and players around him. Playing with USA Hockey, Kunin should already have a feel for building chemistry quickly with new teammates having played in tournaments with new players multiple times a year.

At Wisconsin, I think Luke Kunin will need to hone his knack for the net more. There is no doubt that he has a very good shot, but at the NCAA level there will not be enough space to get pucks off from the locations that he did at the AAPG. Redirections and rebounds will be key for him in the upcoming years.

If Kunin can support that part of his game, as well as his defensive play, he can become an explosive, must-watch prospect.