After two years as a Badger, sophomore captain Luke Kunin is headed to the NHL. Kunin was selected 15th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2016, but decided to play two years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before signing a professional contract.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Kunin, 19, will make the rookie maximum $925,000 per year, and $70,000 in the minors.
After much talk with his coaches, his family and the Minnesota Wild organization, Kunin felt ready it was time to progress in his career.
“We all thought it was the right decision,” Kunin told the Journal. “I feel like I’m ready to make the jump. I’m just excited to get going here with my pro career. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. It’s tough to leave Wisconsin, but I’m looking forward to the future.”
It will also be tough for the Badgers to lose their first line center. The St. Louis native led the Badgers in goal scoring both seasons he spent in Madison. In 69 career games played, Kunin put the puck in the back of the net 41 times, and averaged just over a point per game. His shot is something that has seemed NHL ready for a long time.
Back in November, head coach Tony Granato praised Kunin’s one-timer from the circle, saying, “When he gets to the NHL he’s going to be compared a lot in that spot to players like Ovechkin and Stamkos.”
Those are two of the most elite goal scorers in the NHL, and if Kunin can shoot like them, he’ll have a great career ahead of him.
Kunin has built quite the resume, winning the gold metal in the World Junior Championships and nearly leading his team to the NCAA tournament. The year isn’t over for him though, as he’ll finish off the year in with the Iowa Wild of the AHL.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Kunin said. “But a ton of fun.”
Kunin, a “competitor,” “gamer” and “winner” according to his coach, looks to have even more success at the next level. He has given his best to the Badgers, and will do the same for the Wild.