Luke Kunin has done everything the Minnesota Wild had hoped for since drafting him fifteenth overall in 2016 except one—sign a pro contract. It might not be long until he finishes that goal too, as Michael Russo of the Star Tribune expects him to turn pro within the next few days. Kunin went back for his sophomore year this season as the Wisconsin Badgers’ captain and improved in every facet of his game. The offensive performance continued, with 38 points in 35 games but he improved in the defensive zone and on the powerplay as well.
Badgers coach Tony Granato told Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal that Kunin is “ready to play pro hockey,” despite wanting him back to help his team next year. He wishes him well with whatever he decides, and is just happy he got the opportunity to coach him for two seasons. If Kunin does turn pro he would likely head to the Iowa Wild for the remainder of the regular season on an amateur tryout, before starting his entry-level deal in 2017-18.
- SinBin.com reported answers from George McPhee during a non-media Q&A for season ticket holders today, which led to some interesting revelations about the Vegas Golden Knights. While some have argued that the Golden Knights would take a pile of young, prospect-type players in the expansion draft to build for the future, it doesn’t sound like that will be the driving force behind the team. McPhee touched on experience and leadership as a need for the team, while also revealing that Bill Foley will be willing to spend to the cap in the first season. One of the things that is often overlooked in mock drafts is the need to get to the cap floor, which is something McPhee believes will be no problem. “Complying with the rules and spending the amount of money necessary has not been a problem,” he said, lending a little more credence to the idea that he might target some slightly overpaid, yet still valuable veterans that will be left exposed by their teams.
- One important note from the Q&A is also that McPhee said they will announce an AHL affiliate at the end of the season. Though it’s not clear yet who that would be, SinBin.com notes that it is likely the Chicago Wolves and that the Golden Knights will supply the coaching staff and control hockey operations. The Wolves are currently affiliated with the St. Louis Blues, but remain one of only a dozen AHL teams not owned by an NHL club.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled Joel Vermin for the second time in three days. The forward was brought up on Saturday, only to watch the game that night from the press box. With Vladislav Namestnikov returning to a full practice today, but Ondrej Palat leaving early, Vermin is likely only up as insurance once again for tomorrow night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. Should one of those two miss the contest, Vermin would get into his 12th game of the season in Tampa Bay. He has just three points in the NHL this year, with 28 in AHL action.