Although many of the members of the Crunch would say every one of their teammate is valuable, one of them has been voted above the rest of the entire AHL. It was announced today that forward Tyler Johnson has been named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL's Most Valuable Player for the 2012-13 season. Johnson is the first player in Syracuse Crunch history to be named league MVP. Johnson is also the fourth American-born player ever to be honored with the league award. The other three players were Eddie Olson (1953), Eric Boguniecki (2002) and Keith Aucoin (2010).
The Les Cunningham Award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league's 30 cities. Johnson is currently tied for the league lead in goals with 33. He is also tied for the league lead in plus/minus with a +24. His one point-per-game average is tops in the AHL, with only one other player having that average.
Johnson made his NHL debut this season and notched three goals and three assists during his 14 games with the Lightning. He was one of the Syracuse Crunch's franchise-high four players to represent Syracuse at the 2013 AHL All Star Classic, skating next to fellow Crunch players Mark Barberio, Radko Gudas, and Richard Panik. He was also one of the three Crunch players named a 2012-13 AHL All-Star last week.
Johnson is also the second straight Tampa Bay Lightning prospect to earn league MVP honors; former Bolt Cory Conacher received the honor of AHL MVP last season while with then-Lightning affiliate Norfolk.
Johnson is expected to play a big part in the Crunch's playoff push. Last year in 14 playoff games for the Admirals, Johnson scored 6 goals and 8 assists, the 4th highest total in the league's playoffs that year. The three players ahead of him were also Admirals, none of whom play for the Crunch this year.