GLENVIEW, Ill. – The American Hockey League announced Friday that Chicago Wolves left wing and former Yale star Kenny Agostino has won the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016-17 season.
A third-year professional, Agostino has spent the majority of the season leading the AHL in scoring by a substantial margin. With 24 goals and 59 assists for 83 points entering the final two days of the regular season, he holds a 16-point lead on the league’s No. 2 scorer. He also leads the AHL in assists by 11 helpers.
“I’m very honored to receive this award,” Agostino said. “I’ve been the beneficiary of playing with great players and for an unbelievable coaching staff.”
The 24-year-old becomes the third Chicago Wolves player to earn the Les Cunningham Award – joining center Jason Krog (2007-08) and right wing Darren Haydar (2006-07). Coaches, players and media members from all 30 AHL markets voted on the award.
“He has put up the numbers with the scoring, but he’s more than that,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “Night-in and night-out, look at the effort that he puts in. Then there’s his work ethic and just how competitive of a guy he is.”
The former Yale University standout is enjoying a breakout season, surpassing his previous offensive career benchmarks for points (57), goals (23) and assists (34). Agostino also has logged a personal-best +24 plus/minus rating that ranks eighth in the league.
Agostino has stacked up awards throughout the season. He earned league honors as the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for December. During that month, he collected seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points and became the first AHL player to score that many points in one month since Keith Aucoin (35) and Alexandre Giroux (31) – teammates for the Hershey Bears – in January 2010.
During those 14 games, Agostino also registered six multi-point performances that included a four-assist game on Dec. 7 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. With those four assists, he became just the third AHL player this season to accomplish the feat and the first Wolves player since Krog on April 12, 2008.
On New Year’s Eve, Agostino closed out 2016 with a five-point performance – the only one by an AHL player this season – that included four goals and an assist in a 5-2 win at Iowa. He joined Dan Currie, Nigel Dawes and Steve Larouche as the only players in Wolves history to score four goals in a single game. His first three goals of the contest also marked his first professional hat trick.
Agostino kicked off 2017 as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 1. In four games spanning Dec. 26-31, he registered nine points (5G, 4A) and extended his season-high point streak to seven games with 15 points (5G, 10A). That streak began on Dec. 18 and ended on Jan. 8 at 11 games with 22 points (6A, 16A).
The Flanders, New Jersey, resident was nominated to participate in the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic and contributed one goal and two assists to help the Central Division win the All-Star Challenge.
The Wolves have posted a 36-17-7-5 record (.646) when Agostino is in the lineup. Skating on the team’s top line at left wing, he has accrued 22 multi-point performances through 65 games this season. Additionally, Agostino spent time in the National Hockey League with the St. Louis Blues. Through seven games he has collected three points (G, 2A).
Though drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round, 140th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Agostino made his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames on March 21, 2014, against the Nashville Predators. Overall, Agostino has skated in 17 NHL games and collected five points (2G, 3A).
Gearing up for the Calder Cup Playoffs – which will be Agostino’s first – the Wolves finish the season series against the Iowa Wild Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. and will be televised on The U Too in the Chicago area. The Wolves have a chance to clinch the Central Division title tonight.