Defenseman Michael Downing Agrees to Terms for 2019-20 Campaign
ESTERO, Fla. - Florida Everblades General Manager Craig Brush, along with head coach Brad Ralph, announced on Friday that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Michael Downing for the 2019-20 season.
Downing, who is entering his fourth professional season, appeared in 17 regular season games for the Everblades last season and is the 10th returning player from the 2018-19 roster.
"Downing is coming back after a tremendous finish to last season," Ralph said. "He's a fluid skater that defends well, and he's also a dynamic offensive player. I really appreciate how hard he plays the game. He's had a big summer of training, and it speaks volumes to his passion for the game."
A fourth-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2013, Downing came on strong for the Everblades in the postseason, finishing third among the team's defensemen with nine points (4g-5a) in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. He recorded multiple points in two games, which included a three-point night (1g-2a) in a 5-4 win over the Newfoundland Growlers in the Eastern Conference Final.
"It means a lot to be back with the 'Blades," Downing said. "I love the community and the people I've met. I'm excited to play under Coach Ralph and [Associate Head Coach] Tad [O'Had] again and cannot wait to see the boys. We have some unfinished business from last year."
A native of Canton, Michigan, Downing has played most of his professional career at the American Hockey League level. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound blueliner has suited up in 96 career AHL games spread across four seasons and saw action in a career-high 67 games for the Springfield Thunderbirds in the 2016-17 campaign, his first full year out of college. Downing logged a career-best 13 points (2g-11a) that season and has 18 points (3g-15a) in his AHL career.
While a bulk of his pro career has been in the AHL, Downing has also played 21 career contests in the ECHL. Through 21 career ECHL games, he has tabbed two goals and 10 points. Downing registered a goal and seven assists for Florida in his 17 games for the team this past season. He also netted a goal and an assist in three games for the Manchester Monarchs in 2018-19.
Downing made his jump to the professional ranks after playing three seasons at the University of Michigan from 2013-16. In 105 career games with the Wolverines, he racked up 11 goals and 43 assists for 54 points.
Downing's prowess on the blue line earned him a Big Ten All-Rookie Team honor in 2013-14 and a Big Ten All-Second Team distinction in 2014-15. He helped guide Michigan to the 2015-16 Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Florida starts the 2019-20 season on the road before returning to Hertz Arena for Opening Night on Saturday, Oct. 19.
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