Cunningham in 2014.
September 13, 1990 |
Trail, BC, CAN
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Weight||189 lb (86 kg; 13 st 7 lb)|
|NHL Draft||97th overall, 2010
Craig Alvin Cunningham (born September 13, 1990) is a Canadian ice hockey centre under contract with the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected by the Boston Bruins, 97th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, before being called up to the Bruins in December 2013. During his junior Western Hockey League (WHL) career, he won a Memorial Cup with the Vancouver Giants as a rookie in 2007 and was named to the WHL West First All-Star Team in 2010. He left the Giants as the team's all-time games played leader.
Cunningham was selected into the Western Hockey League (WHL) 129th overall by the Vancouver Giants in the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft. He began his major junior career with the Giants in 2006–07, recording five assists over 48 games as a rookie. He then appeared in 15 WHL playoff games en route to a President's Cup and Memorial Cup with the Giants as WHL and Canadian Hockey League (CHL) champions. Over the next two seasons, he improved to 25- and 50-point campaigns.
Entering his fourth WHL season with the Giants in 2009–10, Cunningham quickly moved up the Giants depth chart as former teammates Evander Kane and James Wright made their respective NHL teams. He was placed on the top line centring team captain Lance Bouma and Brendan Gallagher. Finishing the season with a junior career-high 97 points (37 goals and 60 assists), he ranked first in team scoring and sixth in the league. The total was also the second-highest for a Giants player in a single-season, coming 18 points short of Casey Pierro-Zabotel's record, set the previous year. He was nominated for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as WHL Player of the Year, losing to Eastern Conference nominee Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats. Cunningham was also named to the WHL West First All-Star Team as a unanimous selection, along with Giants teammate Kevin Connauton.
In game two of the opening round of the 2010 WHL playoffs, Cunningham recorded a five-point game (two goals and three assists) in a 6–3 win over the Kamloops Blazers. Two days later, on March 22, 2010, he was named the WHL Player of the Week, finish with four goals and seven points in two games. Two weeks later, on April 5, he received his second Player of the Week honour with three goals and three assists in the first two games of the second round against the Portland Winterhawks. The Giants advanced to the semifinals against the Tri-City Americans, but lost in six games. Cunningham finished the playoffs with 12 goals and 24 points over 16 games.
During the off-season, Cunningham was ranked 108th among North American skaters for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (his second draft-eligible year) by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. He was drafted in the fourth round (97th overall) by the Boston Bruins.
On July 14, 2011, Cunningham signed an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins. During training camp, he was assigned to Boston's minor league affiliate, the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Returning to junior, he was chosen as the Giants' new team captain, replacing Bouma, who had turned professional. Through 36 games, Cunningham had recorded 10 goals and 45 points. Suffering through several injuries as a team, the Giants struggled in comparison to previous years. Leading up to the WHL trade deadline, the top-ranked Portland Winter Hawks inquired about acquiring Cunningham to bolster their lineup for a deep playoff run. General manager Scott Bonner sought Cunningham's approval before finalizing the trade on December 28, 2010. Cunningham was sent to Portland, along with a sixth round pick in the 2011 Bantam Draft, in exchange for Spencer Bennett, Teal Burns, a first round pick in the 2011 Bantam Draft and a second round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft. In dealing away their captain, Giants head coach Don Hay recalled "I think the fans thought were giving up on the season by trading Craig." He left the Giants as the team's all-time leader in regular season games played with 295, having surpassed Mitch Bartley's mark of 285 contests earlier in the season. He quickly became a fan favorite in Portland earning himself the nickname "The Hamster" due to his small stature but tenacious spirit and leadership on the ice. Cunningham finished the season with 17 goals and 42 points over 35 games with the Winterhawks. During the playoffs, he added 7 goals and 21 points over 21 games, as the Winterhawks were eliminated in the Finals.
In the 2013–14 season, Cunningham was called up to the Bruins for the first time on December 16, 2013. On December 17, 2013, he made his NHL debut with the Bruins. He finished the game against the Calgary Flames with four shots on net in 8:16 of ice time.
In the following 2014-15 season, on December 13, 2014, Cunningham scored his first NHL goal, a shorthanded goal against the Ottawa Senators. On March 2, 2015, Cunningham was placed on waivers and claimed by the Arizona Coyotes.
- WHL West First All-Star Team – 2010
- WHL Player of the Week – March 14–21 and March 28 – April 4, 2010
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- "2010 CSB Final Rankings". The Sports Network. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- "Bruins sign McQuaid to three-year contract extension". Fox News. 2011-07-14.
- Beseda, Jim (2011-05-08). "WHL Championship series: Craig Cunningham an important "piece of the puzzle" for Winterhawks". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
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- "Craig Cunningham: Future Second or Third Line NHLer". bruins.nhl.com. 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2014-12-29.
- "B's Recall Craig Cunningham". Boston Bruins. 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-12-16.
- "Bruins lose Craig Cunningham via Coyotes waiver claim". CBS Sports. 2015-03-02. Retrieved 2015-03-02.