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 in his sophomore season. After finishing with 12 points as a freshman, he scored 6 goals with 16 assists in 36 games, second only to Zach Werenski (CBJ ) in scoring for Wolverines defensemen. Downing was +3 and led the team in penalties by a substantial margin, finishing the year with 78 penalty minutes. The Wolverines finished second in the Big 10 Hockey Conference but did not receive an NCAA tournament bid after falling to Minnesota, 4-2, in the conference championship game.
2015-16: Downing signed a three-year entry-level contract with Florida following his junior season at the University of Michigan and made his pro hockey debut with Panthers’ AHL affiliate Portland. He had an even plus/minus with no points and 4 penalty minutes in his only regular season game with the Pirates and did not play in the first-round playoff series against Hershey. Downing led Michigan with 66 penalty minutes and was second to Werenski in scoring amongst Wolverines defensemen. In 35 games he scored 3 goals with 17 assists and was +20 with 66 penalty minutes. Michigan finished second to Minnesota in the Big 10 in the regular season, earning an NCAA tournament berth after defeating the Gophers, 5-3, in the conference championship game. The Wolverines topped Notre Dame, 3-2 in overtime, in the Midwest Regional semifinals before falling to North Dakota, 5-2, in the regional championship game.
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 was a team leader for the University of Michigan as a junior in 2015-16, signing an entry-level contract with Florida and making his pro hockey debut with the AHL's Portland Pirates. The former fourth-round pick has progressed quicker than expected, showing an offensive side to his game to go along with his physical play. Downing will push for one of the open defense spots for the Panthers in training camp but barring any surprises or injuries will likely start the 2016-17 season in the AHL. Long-term he projects as a prototypical "hard-to-play-against" defender who can also contribute offensively.