The 20-year-old center thought his junior days were over for him after he was drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round (97th overall) in this June's draft. But Cunningham, who would have been eligible to play in Providence, and the Bruins couldn't come to terms on a contract, and Cunningham headed back to his junior club in Vancouver.
The Bruins still retain his NHL rights, but Cunningham is no longer property of the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League, as he was traded Tuesday to the Portland Winterhawks.
The deal sends Cunningham from a Giants squad languishing in fourth place in the WHL's B.C. Division with a 16-16-1-4 record to a Portland club sitting in first place in the U.S. Division with the second-best record in the entire WHL at 25-11-0-3.
"Craig is an elite player, as evidenced by being named the Western Conference finalist for the WHL's Player of the Year award last season," Portland general manager and coach Mike Johnston said in a release. "We're very excited to have him join our team."
Cunningham got off to a blazing start this year, earning WHL Player of the Month honors for September/October with 7-29-36 totals and a plus-14 rating in his first 18 games, but he's just 3-7-10 and a minus-10 in 20 games in November and December. Still, he did have 37-60-97 totals last year, plus another 12-12-24 in 16 postseason games, and could push Portland over the top in the quest for a Memorial Cup berth.
But will the change of scenery push Cunningham up in the Bruins' Top 10 Prospects list this week? Read on to find out.
1 Last week: 11. Jordan Caron, LW/RW
Caron hasn't exactly taken the AHL by storm since being demoted earlier this month. After putting up 3-4-7 totals and a plus-4 rating in 20 games with the big club, Caron is just 0-3-3 and a minus-2 through eight games in Providence. He did pick up an assist in two games this week, but is still searching for his first AHL goal.
2 Last week: No. 22. Ryan Spooner, C
Spooner's Kingston club played just one game over the holiday, and with the Frontenacs losing 9-0 at Ottawa, it didn't exactly give Spooner much of a chance to showcase his skills. Amazingly, he wasn't a minus in that game, and still has 19-17-36 totals in 30 games this season.
3 Last week: No. 43. Jared Knight, C/RW Knight also played just one game as the OHL shut down for Christmas break, but he made the most of it with a goal and an assist in London's 3-2 win at Guelph. He leads London with 14-20-34 totals and has a plus-3 rating and 23 penalty minutes in 33 games this season.
4 Last week: No. 34. Joe Colborne, C Colborne picked up an assist in Providence's 4-3 loss at Portland and remains second on the P-Bruins in scoring. The overall totals are modest at 7-11-18 and a minus-7 with 59 shots in 31 games, but he is making strides in his first pro season.
5 Last week: No. 55. Max Sauve, C/LW Sauve missed much of the season with a wrist injury, but he's shown no aftereffects since his returned. He added another goal against Portland on Tuesday and now has 7-3-10 totals and is a plus-3 with 32 shots in 12 games.
6 Last week: No. 66. Jamie Arniel, C Arniel continues to pace the Providence offense, padding his team-leading totals with two goals and an assist in two games this week. He also had eight more shots, as Arniel is certainly not shy about letting it fly with 111 shots in 30 games. He has found the back of the net with 14 of them, along with 10 assists for a team-high 24 points. Despite Providence's struggles, Arniel is also even on the year in plus-minus.
7 Last week: No. 77. Matt Bartkowski, D After a shaky start to the season, Bartkowski has come on strong of late. He added another goal against Portland and was plus-1 in the two games this week. He has 4-8-12 totals and is a minus-6 with 72 shots in 29 games as the first-year pro is starting to show the offensive touch he flashed in camp with the big club.
8 Last week: No. 98. Yury Alexandrov, D Alexandrov finally picked up his second point in December with an assist against Portland. He was also even in the two losses, but did take three minor penalties with calls for hooking, tripping and holding the stick. He has 4-7-11 totals with a minus-6 and 20 PIMs, but has to cut down on the lazy penalties.
9 Last week: No. 89. Ryan Button, D Button finally cooled a bit this week with no points in two games after collecting eight in the first nine games of the month. Button was a minus-1 as the Raiders dropped a pair of games against Saskatoon, but he still has 3-17-19 totals with 25 PIMs and a minus-3 rating through 39 games.
10 Last week: No. 1010. Craig Cunningham, C Cunningham had an assist in his second game with his new club, but it wasn't an auspicious start for his stint with the Winterhawks, as Portland dropped both ends of a home-and-home set with Tri-City by identical 5-1 scores. It was a rough week for Cunningham, as Vancouver also lost 4-1 to Kamloops in his final game with the Giants. He still is tied for ninth in the WHL with 10-36-46 totals through 38 games.