Manchester forward Brian O’Neill has been named the Les Cunningham Award winner as American Hockey League MVP, the league announced on Friday.
O’Neill has scored 22 goals and leads the AHL with 56 assists and 78 points in 69 games heading into the final weekend of the regular season. His plus-28 rating leads all AHL forwards and ranks second overall, and he is tied for the league lead with 26 power-play points. Powered by O’Neill, the Monarchs are third in the league in offense (3.19 goals per game) and first in power-play efficiency (21.0 percent), and have clinched their first Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s regular-season points champions.
O’Neill has strung together three separate scoring streaks of at least seven games each this season, and his five-assist night at Portland on Dec. 17 established AHL season highs for both assists and points in a game. He was selected to participate in the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic but missed the event due to injury, and last week was voted a Second Team AHL All-Star.
O’Neill, 26, signed with the Kings in 2012 following a stellar four-year career at Yale, during which he scored 163 points in 138 games. He spent time with L.A. during training camp last fall before returning to Manchester, where he’s played extensively over the last three seasons.
It’ll be interesting to see if O’Neill can parlay the Cunningham Award into NHL success. Last year’s winner, Texas’ Travis Morin, played six games for Dallas this year and the winner two seasons ago, Tyler Johnson, has gone on to become a budding star in Tampa Bay.