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Top 25 under 25: #20 Craig Cunningham

The 23-year-old winger got a taste of NHL action last season. Can he do enough to earn a consistent spot?

Jared Wickerham
Rank Change from '13 M. Leonard Cornelius Nolan Dan Giesse Sean Sarah Kristian Servo
22 -6 16 23 17 22 N/A 15 18 N/A 17

Position: Left wing

Vitals: 5' 10", 184 lbs.

Acquired: Drafted by the Bruins in 2010, 97th overall (4th round)

NHL experience: 2 games (2013-2014)

Craig Cunningham is an under-the-radar type of prospect. He went undrafted in his first go-round in 2009, then had a monster season with the Vancouver Giants in 2010, playing on the first line with now-NHLers Brendan Gallagher and Lance Bouma. In fact, Cunningham was a finalist for WHL MVP. The Bruins drafted him shortly thereafter.

In two full season in Providence, Cunningham has played 163 games and recorded 90 points (playoffs included). Cunningham saw action in two games with the big club last season, an experience that he told the Vancouver Province has made him "hungrier" for more NHL action.

Strangely enough, Cunningham was ranked 14th by us last year, had a better season in Providence this past year and had a cup of coffee in the NHL...yet he dropped six spots in this year's rankings. Hey, it's not an exact science.

Cunningham is a guy who, with a strong showing at camp, could move up the depth chart for the Bruins this season. He's a little on the smaller side, but is a right shot winger on a team filled with left shot forwards. Sometimes small differences like that can make a player on the bubble seem more or less appealing.

Bruins prospect guru Kirk Luedeke had this to say about Cunningham:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>My Bruins all-underrated prospect team: G- Zane Gothberg D- Zach Trotman D- Rob O&#39;Gara F- Craig Cunningham F- Brian Ferlin F- Anders Bjork</p>&mdash; Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) <a href="">August 4, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Good enough for me. If a guy like Kirk sees value in Cunningham, chances are we'll see that value sooner rather than later.

Cunningham's immediate future with the team will likely depend on how the rest of this offseason shakes out. If the Bruins break camp with the roster as currently assembled, meaning no one is traded, Cunningham has a shot at earning one of the bottom-six wing spots. If a wing gets shipped out, his chances go up; if a wing comes in, his chances go down.

Training camp will be key for Cunningham, who is slightly behind other prospects like Justin Florek, Matt Fraser and Jordan Caron at this point. The Bruins have already shown that they think Cunningham is ready for NHL action. It'll be up to him to prove he's ready for more than a couple of games.