Update: UNH Senior Grayson Downing Signs With Minnesota Wild
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Grayson Downing Signs Pro Contract
UPDATE: The Minnesota Wild have announced the signing of Grayson Downing to two-year entry level contract. He will report to the Minnesota Wild's American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild based in Des Moines, for the rest of this season.
Chad Graff, Minnesota Wild beat writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, had originally reported that UNH's Alternate Captain Grayson Downing would "very likely" sign with the Minnesota Wild tomorrow. UNH fans will remember Chad as the executive editor of The New Hampshire and sports reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Back in the Fall of 2008, 16-year-old Grayson Downing left his hometown of Abbortsford, British Columbia to pursue his dream of playing professional hockey. Downing travelled 200 miles to join the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League. Earlier that summer he had verbally committed to attend the University of New Hampshire and play for the UNH hockey team. In three BCHL seasons, Downing became one of the top scorers in the league. Now, after an outstanding four-year career as a Wildcat, Grayson is about to realize his dream.
Downing came close to being drafted by an NHL team in the 2010 Entry Draft. The NHL Central Scouting Service ranked him as the 144th North American skater in its 2010 Final Rankings. That was the year that Tyler Sequin was drafted first overall by the Boston Bruins. Although Grayson Downing was not drafted, NHL teams continued to scout him during his career at UNH.
Following a successful sophomore season in which Downing scored 15 goals and 16 assists for UNH, the Chicago Blackhawks invited him to their Summer Development Camp. He also participated in the Calgary Flames Player Development Camp this past summer.
Grayson Downing raised the level of his game another notch in his recently completed senior season. He doubled his goal scoring from 10 in his junior season to 21 this season. Downing scored his 100th point in a 5-3 win over Notre Dame on January 31st. He went on to lead the Wildcats to victories in the opening round and quarterfinal series of the Hockey East Tournament. He scored 3 goals and an assist in the two-game series against UConn. In the three-game quarterfinals against Providence College, Downing scored a goal-a-game including the game winner in the first game. Here's the final goal Grayson scored as a UNH Wildcat:
As this season wound down, Grayson Downing was identified as one of the top college free agents. Evan Sporer on NHL.com wrote:
"A talented offensive player, Downing can play at each end of the ice. He's been a consistent performer for the Wildcats, scoring at least 10 goals in each of his four seasons. This year he's up to 21, including an overtime-winner Friday in Game 1 of New Hampshire's Hockey East Quarterfinal series against Providence. He knows how to finish around the goal and has an NHL-caliber shot."Bill Meltzer, who also writes for NHL.com provided this assessment:
"The 22-year-old senior forward has been a consistent offensive performer throughout his collegiate career and has peaked at the right time in his senior season. Downing has a quick shot release and can draw the defense toward him and dish to an open teammate for scoring chances."It's no surprise that Grayson has earned an opportunity to make a living playing professional hockey. I join UNH hockey fans in wishing him the best of luck.