2010-11: Michael Downing skated for Detroit Catholic Central High School and was invited to USA Hockey’s Select 16 Development Camp in June. He was the third player taken in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft (by Dubuque) and was selected by the Sarnia Sting in the eighth round (155th overall) of the OHL Priority Draft. Downing committed to playing college hockey at the University of Michigan in 2013-14.
2011-12: Downing played for the USA Under-17 Select team at the 2011 Five Nations Tournament in August before joining older brother Jake Downing with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. One of the youngest players on a team that featured NHL first round picks Zemgus Girgensons (BUF) and Michael Matheson (FLA) he scored 4 goals with 10 assists and was minus-one with 68 penalty minutes. Dubuque finished third in the Eastern Division and reached the second round in the playoffs. Downing scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was minus-three with 4 penalty minutes in five playoff games. He attended USA Hockey’s Select 17 Development Camp in June.
2012-13: Downing returned to Dubuque for his second season and represented the USA in a pair of tournaments — serving as a team captain for the U18 team at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August and winning a silver medal at the 2012 U19 World Junior A Challenge. He also played in the 2012 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo in September. Downing was plus-16 with 3 goals with 20 assists in 52 games and was second on the Fighting Saints with 107 penalty minutes. Dubuque finished first in the Eastern Conference and defeated Fargo in the finals to capture the Clark Cup. Downing had 3 assists and was plus-six in 11 playoff games. In four games at the WJAC he had 1 assist and 28 penalty minutes. Downing was ranked 49th amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Florida in the fourth round (97th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
2013-14: Downing was named to the Big 10 All-Rookie team following his freshman season at Michigan. Frequently skating with senior Mac Bennett (Montreal) on the top pair for the Wolverines, he scored 2 goals with 10 assists and was +3 with 60 penalty minutes in 34 games. Michigan finished third in the Big Ten in the conference’s inaugural season but was upset by Penn State in the conference tournament and did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
2014-15: Downing took a big leap forward in his development with the University of Michigan, improving his point total from 12 to 22; he scored six goals and added 16 assists and finished second on the team in defenseman scoring behind only Zach Werenski (CBJ). Downing also led the team in penalty minutes by a substantial margin, finishing the year with 78.
Downing has good size and plays a defense-first game. He is an excellent skater and isn't afraid to carry the puck up the ice, but he has yet to fully display true offensive ability. Downing has to develop a better feel for the game, and he could stand to be a more physical defender in his own end.
Downing will return to the University of Michigan for his junior season in 2015-16. The former fourth round pick has progressed quicker than expected, though a lot of his offense last season can be attributed to playing for a high-octane team led by Dylan Larkin (DET). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see his offensive numbers dip a lot, but he should still provide stable defense and physicality.