Wild sign first-round pick, Badgers captain Luke Kunin

After leading the Wisconsin Badgers in scoring as a sophomore, Luke Kunin is headed to the NHL.
AP

One of the Minnesota Wild’s top prospects is one step closer to the NHL.

The Wild signed Wisconsin Badgers sophomore Luke Kunin to an entry-level contract Thursday, just days after Wisconsin’s season ended in the Big Ten championship game with a double-overtime loss to Penn State.

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Kunin assisted on Matt Ustaski’s game-tying power-play goal in the third period, while accounting for four of Wisconsin’s 52 shots on goal against Penn State.

Kunin led the Badgers with 22 goals and 38 points this season, as the Badgers finished second in the Big Ten, improving to 20-15-1 a year after winning just eight games.

The Wild selected the sought-after center with the 15th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft following his explosive freshman season.

Kunin will join the AHL’s Iowa Wild on an amateur tryout contract this season, before his three-year, entry-level contract kicks in next season.

Kunin’s star rose rapidly once he arrived on campus.

Kunin was the second-youngest player in college hockey in 2015-16 and led the Badgers in scoring with 19 goals, before becoming just the second sophomore captain in the program’s history. He reprised that role this past December for the U.S. at the World Junior Championships, leading the team to a gold medal.