Heading into the 2016 NHL Draft, there will be plenty of prospects for Ron Hextall to choose from when the Flyers make their first selection at number 18 overall. Having already covered a QMJHL prospect in Julien Gauthier, and an OHL prospect in Alex DeBrincat, it’s time to look at a potential NCAA pick: Luke Kunin.
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, EP 2015)
At .94 points per game in the Big 10, Kunin can be expected to hit .3384 points per game in the NHL or 28 points per 82 games. Remember, NHLE’s are based off the first season in the NHL, and therefore this would be his rookie points number, not his prime.
Ideally, Kunin will find himself like Brayden Schenn, an similarly used scoring forward who can launch big shots and occasionally make some highlight reel plays. In a perfect world, Kunin will use his puck possession ability to also be a strong defensive player and kill penalties.
Ceiling wise, Kunin is probably comparable to Winnipeg’s Bryan Little. A solid top line scoring forward with some offensive gifts. On the low end, Kunin likely ends up as Matt Read, a middle six forward who sees an early decline to his career.
Given that Gauthier and DeBrincat could both be off the board prior to 18, it’s refreshing that 2016’s draft will still feature some very good talent, even if it is less deep than 2015 or 2003.