2016 NHL Draft: Luke Kunin, Ryan Johansen's Soul Mate

We continue our draft coverage with Wisconsin Badger forward Luke Kunin. Kunin is a potential high-end scorer who could find his way into a top-six NHL role.

  • Position: C/RW
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 5'11.25" (via NHL combine)
  • Weight: 193 lbs (via NHL combine)
  • Team: Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)
  • Hometown: Chesterfield, MO
  • Birth Year: December 4, 1997

The Winger Ryan Johansen Needs

In the Nashville Predators Team Needs post, it was discussed that Ryan Johansen could use a finisher who gets into offensive position, plays responsible defense and goes to the dirty areas; much like James Neal does now. Enter Luke Kunin: check, check, check and check.

The biggest aspect of Kunin's game is his all-world finishing ability. Captain of the USA U-18 team last season, he put up six goals and seven games. This season, for a very bad Wisconsin team, Kunin put up 19 goals and 13 assists in 34 games. His release is extremely fast and his shot is very accurate.

In the draft combine Kunin solidified himself as one of the top athletes available. Here are his top results (https://link.nhl.com/centralscouting/public/):

  • 1st- Vertical Jump
  • 5th- Agility & Balance: Pro Agility Right
  • 9th- Muscoskeletal: Standing Long Jump
  • 15th- Agility & Balance: Pro Agility Left
  • 16th- Anaerobic Fitness: Mean Power Output
  • 16th- Anaerobic Fitness: Peak Power Output

On the ice, Kunin is able to use that athleticism to fuel his very high compete level. He goes to the dirty areas and he wins battles. Kunin is a player every coach would love to have.

But would the Predators take him?

The answer is simple: absolutely. While Poile has mentioned that he covets a defenseman in the first two rounds of the draft, Luke Kunin is a player the Predators would fall head over heels for.

As mentioned earlier, Kunin would be the perfect winger for Johansen. He fits in Laviolette's system which requires its players to win battles. Furthermore, he has one thing that can set players a part from others in the long run: drive. Kunin has fought through Type 1 diabetes and he works hard at all aspects of his game on and off the ice.

Finally, Kunin is a University of Wisconsin standout and the Predators have not been shy about pulling players from that market. Notably, Craig Smith and, more recently, Jack Dougherty have come out of that hockey powerhouse. We'll just have to wait until draft day to see if the Predators pick one more player out of the storied University of Wisconsin.

Quotes and Tweets

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. -€” Curtis Joe