Here's the lines from Net::Telnet's docs for the cmd() method that explain what's happening:
In a scalar context, the characters read from the remote side are discarded and 1 is returned on success. On time-out, eof, or other failures, the error mode action is performed. See errmode().
In a list context, just the output generated by the command is returned, one line per element. In other words, all the characters in between the echoed back command string and the prompt are returned. If the command happens to return no output, a list containing one element, the empty string is returned. This is so the list will indicate true in a boolean context. On time-out, eof, or other failures, the error mode action is performed. See errmode().
So you need to call it in list context if you want the output (assign the result to @array, not a scalar like $output).
PS: For a brand new coder your code-quality looks great!
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