Wisconsin sophomore captain Luke Kunin signed his professional tender with the Minnesota Wild and will depart the Badgers after two seasons, reports the Wisconsin State Journal’s Todd Milewski and other media outlets.
The Wild’s first-round draft pick in 2016, Kunin led Wisconsin in both goals and total points in 2016-17 as the Badgers defied expectations to finish 20-15-1, taking second place in the Big Ten.
As Milewski reports:
Kunin, the Badgers’ sophomore captain, signed with the Minnesota Wild earlier in the day and will finish this season in the American Hockey League.
A 19-year-old, who led the Badgers in goal-scoring in both of his collegiate seasons, Kunin signed a standard three-year, entry-level deal with the Wild that will start next season. It pays the rookie maximum $925,000 per year plus performance bonuses at the NHL level and $70,000 annually in the minors.
He’ll join the Des Moines-based Iowa Wild for the rest of the season on an amateur tryout contract, the NHL team announced Thursday.
Kunin’s departure was expected, as Wisconsin coach Tony Granato and others openly discussed the possibility earlier in the week.
With Kunin’s departure and senior assistant captain Grant Besse’s graduation, Wisconsin loses two of its top five point scorers from last season.
Barring his own professional departure, freshman Trent Frederic will be Wisconsin’s leading returning goal scorer next season. Wisconsin is expected to return most of its young core and will add talented forwards Tarek Baker, Sean Dhooghe, and Jason Dhooge in 2017-18. Recruits Linus Weissbach and Sampo Ranta are also expected to be in the mix for next year’s team.