I recently wrote an article highlighting the possible additions to the Bruins third line for the 2013-14 season. This will be a little series of articles giving a more in depth look at these players so hopefully you can get to know them a little bit better as they come into the 2013-14 season as a member of the Boston Bruins. Not all of these players will definitely have shot, especially ones like Seth Griffith (who is just coming out of major junior) but it doesn’t mean I will overlook him.
I am going to start this with one of the lesser known powerhouses the Bruins have been harboring for the past 2 seasons with the Providence Bruins. Craig Cunningham.
Name: Craig Cunningham
Position: Centre / Left Wing
2010 NHL Entry Draft
4th Round, 97th Overall
Cunningham started his major junior career with the Vancouver Giants, the same junior team that Milan Lucic started with. Cunningham played 5 seasons with the Vancouver Giants before being traded to the Portland Winterhawks during the 2010-11 WHL Season. The Winterhawks would go on to compete for the WHL Championship but lost to the Kootenay Ice 4 games to 1, Cunningham scored 21 points in 21 playoff games he played. He was drafted 97th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the draft everyone will only remember for Taylor vs Tyler.
Cunningham made the AHL team right out of being drafted and played his first professional season in the 2011-12 AHL season scoring 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points. However much like the rest of the team that year his production was marred by a -12 rating. The 2011-12 AHL Providence Bruins failed to make the playoffs, but the following season Cunningham proved himself. Cunningham just wasn’t successful by being a better player on a mediocre team, he repeated and improved upon his success. His 2012-13 Providence Bruins season saw him score 25 Goals and 21 assists for 46 points. He was 3rd on the team in points for the second straight year, as well as 2nd in goal scored (5 goals behind Jamie Tardif who lead with 30). He netted 8 points in 12 playoff games and has only missed 1 game while with the Providence Bruins in both of his seasons with the team.
The Argument For Cunningham:
Cunningham has shown he can be a consistent scorer at a professional level. He has netted 20 goals twice and has shown he can have a continued improvement as he continues playing. He is a gritty forward, he isn’t afraid to crash the net and find open ice on a rebound. He has made a name for himself with the P-Bruins and has been a force on the team’s Top 6.
Here is an example of him crashing the net on a rebound during an October game from this past AHL Season:
Cunningham also has a connection to Milan Lucic. Not only did they play for the same major junior team, Cunningham’s rookie year with the Giants was the same year they captured the Memorial Cup which was Lucic’s last year with the team. Cunningham obviously didn’t play together as Lucic was a major top 6 player at the time and Cunningham was just the new kid but there is a connection there that the two could build something off of. Obviously Cunningham would not be playing on the Top 6 in Boston but if he ever made up it to the Top 6 because of injuries then maybe they could build some chemistry.
The Argument Against Cunningham:
Cunningham is a left shot LW/C. The Bruins need a RW on the third line, Soderberg and Kelly can be interchanged on the centre position and both are already natural left shots. Cunningham could be converted to being a left handed RW, they already converted him from centre to wing, but I really see it counter-intuitive if he isn’t comfortable shooting on that side.
The Bruins have plenty of potential right wingers within their system they could use, but Cunningham has been one of the top dogs in the Bruins system when it comes to consistent high scoring and he will soon be complemented by Matt Fraser from the Texas Stars if he does not make the NHL.
Craig Cunningham has the potential to be a fantastic NHL forward, he is definitely going to get a shot at it sometime soon if not this upcoming season. Cunningham might be a small player but that doesn’t hinder him, he is a great leader and would complement the hard-nose play of Chris Kelly and the Bruins overall style of play. Cunningham will get his shot, and he definitely seems like he can impress right away.