MIchael Downing

Darren Walker

Downing is a big, strong defensive minded blueliner who possesses a fluid skating ability and a very good first step. He uses his directional mobility well for a two-way game and while not a dynamic skater per se, he’s good enough to make a player of his size more effective than others. Good north-south speed allows Downing to jump up in the rush and recover. He’s got many gifted tangibles; attractive frame, effortless and rangy skating ability, crisp passing ability, and a heavy shot. The problem is that his hockey sense has been called into question. He routinely makes poor decisions under duress; forces passes and shots into legs, turns the puck over instead of making a simple play, etc. He has a habit of looking down at the puck before shooting, giving away his intentions. He’s fully capable of rushing the puck up the ice. His combination of reach and lateral agility allow him to force puck carriers wide. He shows some nastiness in his end as he finishes his checks with aplomb and uses his stick to let opponents know he’s a threat to hammer someone in the open ice with the old school hip check or pester by delivering a few raps on the hip or leg of his opponent when they buzz around his crease. Questions about his desire to buy into a team-first mentality and work ethic have come up. (May 2013)