Craig Cunningham, LW
September 3, 1990
Boston's 4th choice, 97th overall, in 2010 Draft
Signing status: Signed through 2014
Physical: Short but stocky forward is naturally strong and better suited to transition from major junior to the pro grind than one would think simply by looking at his vitals on paper. Strong upper- and lower-body drive for his size. Above average skater who doesn't have explosive speed, but is quick and powerful- gets up a good head of steam and drives hard to the net, using his bowling ball-type build to fight through checks. Soft hands for passing and scoring goals. Can feather feeds through traffic and find open teammates for quality scoring opportunities. Has a quick stick and is exceptionally good at getting it on loose pucks and putting them home in close. Chippy player who gives as good as he gets; not afraid to get his nose dirty. Doesn't have the size to be a physical force, but willingly initiates contact and finishes his checks-- plays with a lot of energy. Another dedicated gym rat who became a close friend and workout partner of Milan Lucic's when the two were teammates on the Memorial Cup-winning Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. The two still workout together in the off-season with Giants strength and conditioning coach Ian Gallagher.
Intangibles: Character guy with passion and determination in spades. More creative offensively than he gets credit for- Portland teammate Sven Bartschi raved about Cunningham's playmaking and passing ability. Highly coachable player who will play any role required of him. Has the kind of heart and desire that may transcend his size deficit at the next level, but has a ways to go before he'll be ready to seriously compete for an NHL job. An affable yet serious type who learned the value of hard work watching his mother, Heather, work two jobs to support him and his two brothers after his father passed away. Captained Vancouver last season until a December trade to Portland. Helped lead the Winterhawks to the WHL championship series.
Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment
Cunningham isn't flashy and doesn't grab your attention, but at the end of the week, he did a lot of the little things right and showed off his trademark hustle. He had some chemistry skating with Jared Knight and Anthony Camara and is one of the more underrated prospects in Boston's system. Don Sweeney alluded to the fact that Cunningham struggled at times with some of the complex skating drills put on by skating coach Besa Tsintsadze, but that he kept a good sense of humor about it. Sweeney's comments indicated that Cunningham is well-liked and respected for his effort and dedication even if he may not have the natural ability of others in the system.
Development Camp interview with Craig Cunningham
The Bruins hope Cunningham will develop into a versatile utility forward on the bottom two lines in time. Although he's been a productive WHL scorer over the past two seasons (97 and 87 points), he's a long shot to ever crack Boston's lineup as a top-six forward. A responsible defensive player who will likely have to work his way into the AHL mix by doing the grunt work before he'll be ready for a regular scoring role. However, has enough versatility and maturity to earn a recall before some of the more highly skilled players ahead of him on the depth chart because he can fill any need even with limited ice time. One of those classic "more than the sum of his parts" type players you hear about.
"I had a chance to go out and see Craig [Cunningham] later on in the season. He actually toyed with playing in Providence last year and decided to go back. Albeit it was in Vancouver at the time, he was captain and felt that he was going to be in a real leadership role, which kind of dovetails with the character of the kid. To be honest with you, he’s a kid who feels like he’s a leader and wants to be a leader. He went to Portland and was spoken very highly of by the coaching staff there in that capacity. So you know, the playing field kind of gets leveled out now, in terms of, he’s a younger kid and coming, but even in this type of camp with kids, he’s kind of taken a leadership role."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 9, 2011
“He’s just such a coachable young man. Right from the time he was 16, he really understood everything that was being taught to him. He tried to do everything that was being taught to him, and he continually got better and better. The evolution is that he’s a 19-year-old player now; he knows what the expectations are and he’s grown with different leaders. He’s a real Giant-type player—he’s a really hard-working young man.”- Vancouver Giants Don Hay to Straight.com; December, 2009
“When he was 16 we saw some skill in him, but he didn’t score a goal the whole year. But in that training camp with his own age group, he was one of the top players. We knew he had the skill, but he wasn’t having the success as far as putting up numbers. But killing penalties and doing all the things—playing five-on-five, finishing checks—he did all those things. Now, as a 19-year-old, his skill level has caught up and he’s been a real, real good player for us.”- Don Hay to Straight.com; December, 2009
"We really like this kid. He led Vancouver in scoring andwas one of the top scorers in the entire WHL this past season, but beyond that, you have to look at what he's gone through in his life and how he's had to overcome a lot. He brings a lot of energy and passion to everything he does, and he's just one of those players that we looked at a lot this year and felt he brought both that scoring and character to the table."- Bruins director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith
to B2010DW; Los Angeles; June 26, 2010
"Craig Cunningham / LW ('90): Has become shifty and dangerous enough that he's turned into a real pro prospect. Seems to me like he's grown a little bit (maybe an inch or so) in the last two years, so that also helps. And he was one of the youngest players in the 2008 draft, so he's closer to being a part of last year's group. I'll be shocked if someone doesn't grab him at least late in the draft - could even go in the middle rounds. If somehow he doesn't go, he'll have a lot of calls from teams for a camp invite."- Red Line Report scout Mike Remmerde, NHL Draft Notes Blog, June 22, 2010