Pre-game reading: Wild prospect, NCAA star Kunin wrestling with decision to turn pro


— Minnesota has a bunch of quality young prospects (Joel Eriksson-Ek, Jordan Greenway, Alex Tuch, Kirill Kaprizov) in the pipleline. But right now, one is garnering more interest than the rest: University of Wisconsin star Luke Kunin, the 15th overall pick at last year’s draft.

Kunin, 19, just wrapped his sophomore campaign for the Badgers, and it was a good one. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, with four points in seven games.

Kunin does have some unfinished business at Wisconsin — the club fell short of qualifying for the NCAA championships this year — but according to the Star-Trubine’s Mike Russo, most expect him to forgo the rest of his eligibility and turn pro.

For more on what Badgers head coach Tony Granato had to say, click here.

— More players have weighed in on the NHL’s Olympic participation (or, lack thereof). This time, it’s Bruins captain Zdeno Chara speaking out. From ESPN:

“Any time there’s some sort of interference, it looks bad on the sport and it looks bad on the people making the decisions. We are at a point where people need to really sit down behind one table and find a solution, instead of always kind of being defensive I would say, or finding ways not to find solutions. That’s what I’m hoping for and believe that it will eventually happen. Things will find a way and fall into place for the Olympics, for the sport and for the history of all the nations being in the same place; come together and we will see the best hockey players for their countries at the Olympics.”

Chara’s comments came after Philly forward Jakub Voracek said it’s “absolutely ridiculous” there’s no Olympic deal yet.

— Nick Paccione is 12 years old. Earlier this season, he won a contest to do play-by-play of the first period for the Devils radio broadcast and, on Sunday, was on the call for New Jersey’s home game against Columbus.

So, how’d he do?

“He did a good job and handled the pace well,” Devils play-by-play voice Matt Loughlin said. “He had excellent energy and his goal calls were spot on. What a way to begin a career. A shorthanded penalty shot, another shorthanded goal and a power-play goal. That’s not easy.”

Hear some of Paccione’s call here.