The Panthers announced today that they’ve signed defenseman Michael Downing to a 3-year entry-level contract. Downing was selected by the Panthers with the 97th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Downing recently finished up his junior year at the University of Michigan where he tallied 20 points, including a career-high 17 assists, in 33 games while playing on the team’s top defensive pairing and second power play unit. Downing and the University of Michigan men’s hockey team were defeated by North Dakota on Saturday by a score of 5-2 in the NCAA Midwest Regional Final. He finished his season by tallying 7 assists in the final 11 games, including assists in 4 straight games, and 54 points in 105 games over 3 seasons with Michigan.
Downing is known for being a physical player and he’s remained effective despite it getting him in trouble at times. As a defenseman, he plays a reliable, sound two-way game, and has a knack for getting his shots through to the net.
Downing is expected to head to the Portland Pirates of the AHL on an amateur try-out contract where he’ll join MacKenzie Weegar and Mike Matheson as yet another solid defensive prospect biding their time in the Panthers’ system. Defenseman Ian McCoshen could also sign with the Panthers once his college season ends; Boston College is headed to the Frozen Four which begins on April 7th. The Panthers are also closing in on SHL free-agent defenseman Linus Hultstrom, although it’s unclear if and when the a deal will be completed.