Minnesota Wild: 2018-19 Season Preview of Luke Kunin

ST. PAUL, MN - NOVEMBER 2: Luke Kunin #19 of the Minnesota Wild passes the puck against the Montreal Canadiens during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on November 2, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - NOVEMBER 2: Luke Kunin #19 of the Minnesota Wild passes the puck against the Montreal Canadiens during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on November 2, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Sophomore Luke Kunin is coming into 2018 Training Camp, hoping to earn a full-time spot on the Minnesota Wild roster. There’s 19 days until preseason starts, are you getting excited yet?

Luke Kunin is determined to be ready to go for Minnesota Wild 2018 Training Camp, but it’s not his call to make. Kunin is extremely new to the organization, but has shown a ton of promise in a limited amount of time. The 15th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft impressed greatly in training camp last season, and should do the same if ready for training camp.


Luke Kunin surprised some with the fast track to the NHL, compared to other US-born first round picks selected by the Minnesota Wild.

Kunin spent his draft year as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, finishing the year first on the Badgers in goals (19) and second in points (32) through 34 games despite finishing in last place among NCAA Big Ten teams.

The Wild opted to select him at #15 in that spring’s draft, and Kunin made the expected decision to remain in Wisconsin for his sophomore season. That year, he was given the honor of wearing the Captain’s “C” on his jersey.

Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild /

Minnesota Wild

As Captain of the Badgers, Kunin lead them from last in the league the year before to a loss in the Big Ten Championship Game that year, leading the team again in goals (22) and this time in points as well (38) through the 35 game season.

Following the Championship loss to Penn State, Kunin made the decision to forgo his Junior Year in favor of signing a pro deal and reporting to the Iowa Wild for the end of the 2016-17 season. Kunin would record 8 points (5G, 3A) in only 12 games at the end of the Iowa season, enough to draw positive attention to himself heading into the 2017 summer.

Training Camp 2017 ended with Kunin high on the prospect list, but still sent to Iowa to start the year. It was a short stay (2 points in 2 games) as he was recalled to Minnesota following injuries to Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, and Marcus Foligno.

Kunin was assigned and recalled between the AHL and NHL multiple times over the first 2 months of the season, he recorded 4 points (2G, 2A) through his first 7 games with the Minnesota Wild, and never played a game in Iowa during that span.

Following a 10 game scoring slump, Kunin was reassigned to the AHL to find his game again. He would spend the next 3 months in Iowa, recording 17 points (9G, 8A) through 34 games, playing his way into the AHL All-Star Game, and earning a call back to Minnesota in March when Chris Stewart was claimed off waivers.

Kunin would only get in 2 more scoreless games before tragedy struck. He blew out his ACL, and required surgery to repair the ligaments. A 6-7 month timetable was set for recovery, leaving his status for the start of the 2018 season uncertain.

Season Preview

Kunin is still on the mend, as we draw ever closer to the 2018 Minnesota Wild preseason, and his recovery status is still uncertain as of today. He has been seen skating recently with other Badgers alumni at the University of Wisconsin while rehabbing his knee, which looks promising.

Kunin believes he will be ready for the start of training camp, but my concern for his own safety is a risk of re-injury. The chances of tearing the recontruction from a return to full contact too soon, combined with the current depth chart in Minnesota, give me hope that the doctors and trainers tread carefully with our top prospect.

Kunin has the extremely high potential to be another top offensive producer on a team in desperate need of some scoring depth, and I would hate to see us lose that by being impatient with a major injury like this.

I predict that we see at least a little bit of Kunin in training camp, likely in non-contact action without any game time. I think what’s best for him and the team is an additional month spent in rehab, most likely in Iowa, and a brief stint in the AHL to get him back to game speed.

His spot on the Minnesota Wild should still be expected, and I presume that he will be back in the Twin Cities again in November.

The problem with Kunin, is not his strength, dedication, or his ability, it is that he is still a 19-year old trying to get his professional break. I’m certain there has to be a level of doubt in his mind that this injury could ruin his career. The Minnesota Wild staff need to be looking out for his best interests and ensuring he is not risking his career for pride or ego reasons.

Next. Backup Goalie Options - Part Two. dark

With proper recovery and rehab, and a stint in Iowa to find his game again, Kunin will be a successful member of this team. I don’t think it is unrealistic to think he could surpass 50 games this season and potentially 20-30 points if given the right path by coaches and trainers. He has the determination and will to succeed, he has a clear motivation to recover his knee as soon as possible, and so there will always be a place for him on this team.