Grayson Downing: History, Analysis, And Potential Impact With The Minnesota Wild


Grayson Downing, the newest member of the Minnesota Wild, has a chance to make his presence felt with a struggling Iowa Wild squad.

During last night’s 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders, word got out that the Minnesota Wild signed University of New Hampshire Senior center and undrafted free agent Grayson Downing to a 2-year, entry-level deal. You can read more on the nuts and bolts of that deal HERE. Before that contract kicks in, Downing will spend time on an amateur tryout contract with the Iowa Wild. Let’s take a closer look at the young Center’s history as well as his implications for the Wild.


Born and raised in Abbotsford, British Columbia, the 22-year-old center played his junior hockey career with the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League, which is part of the junior-A system in Canada. A step below the top-tier Canadian Hockey League, other BCHL alumni include

Justin Schultz


Tanner Glass

, and

Beau Bennett

. Bennett, by the way is the only player from Canadian Junior-A to be drafted in the first round of the NHL entry draft in the last 5 years. I’ll touch more on that later.

Selected 81st overall in the WHL Bantam draft, Downing never spent time in Major Juniors. You can see his stats in the BCHL below, including an impressive 70 point season in 2010-2011.

Ranked 144th by the NHL central scouting service in 2010, Downing went undrafted before committing to play for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. You can see his season-by-season breakdown above.
This year, Downing’s senior season and final year of NCAA eligibility, he centered the Wildcat’s top line with Matt Willows and Casey Thrush (both undrafted) The Wildcats finished this season 19-19-2 with a 10-11-1 record in the stacked Hockey East conference. Downing finished his senior season with a team-leading 21 goals and was second on the team with 36 points. Downing ended the season on a high note, with 7 points (6g-1A) in his last 7 games. Useless stat of the day: The Wildcats was 12-2-1 when Downing scored a goal and 7-17-1 when he didn’t. Downing’s 21 goals tied him with fellow Wild prospect Mario Lucia for 13th in the NCAA. He also ranked 16th in the NCAA in goals per game.

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  • Potential Impact and Contract Analysis:

    I really like this signing. The Wild didn’t have to give up anything to bring in Downing and if he doesn’t work out, he’ll spend his time in the minors and try his luck elsewhere. In short, this is  low risk, high reward acquisition.

    At 6-feet tall and 200 pounds, Downing has pro hockey size and had 4 years in the NCAA to grow in to his frame a bit. He comes in a bit shorter than Mikko Koivu, but still fits the prototypical NHL center mold, which I like.

    It’s hard to predict point production from NCAA players transitioning to the AHL or NHL. I mentioned Beau Bennett up near the top of this article. Much like Downing, Bennett started his career in the BCHL before moving on to the NCAA for two seasons. Undoubtedly an incredibly skilled forwards, Bennett is still searching for success in the NHL. On the other hand, Justin Fontaine played Junior-A hockey before moving to the NCAA and signing with the Wild. Not a prolific point score, Fontaine is a critical, if not underrated, part of the Wild’s nightly roster. The truth is, we just don’t know how Downing will develop.

    The best part about this signing is the help he’ll bring to the Iowa Wild. Currently in last place in the AHL at 21-41-1-2, Iowa needs a lot of help moving forward. It’s doubtful at best that he makes the NHL Wild’s roster out of training camp next season, which gives him time to develop and hopefully help the Wild in return. Beyond Tyler Graovac, who may get a close look for the NHL next season, Iowa’s centers aren’t extremely promising and Downing could find himself playing top-6 minutes in a hurry.

    The Wild’s prospect pool was starting to thin faster than my hair-line, and draft picks have vanished in return for immediate needs in St. Paul. Grayson Downing might not be the next big thing for the Wild, but there’s plenty of good to be had by adding him to the roster. I also don’t expect this to be the last time this season the Wild dip in to the NCAA undrafted free agent pool. If they sign someone else, you’ll be able to read all about it right here at Gone Puck Wild.

    Links you should check out for more:

    Check Out UNH’s release on Downing’s signing

    Follow Grayson Downing on Twitter

    Kevin Falness’ interview with Grayson Downing on KFXN’s Wild Weekly (starts around the 13 minute mark)

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