Minnesota Wild News: Grayson Downing Signs Entry-Level Deal


The Minnesota Wild signed NCAA free agent Grayson Downing to a two-year entry-level contract on Tuesday night.

The contract will start in the 2015-16 season, but he will report to the Iowa Wild immediately on an amateur tryout contract (ATO).

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The the 6-foot, 200-pound 22-year-old center just finished his senior season at the University of New Hampshire, where he led the team with 21 goals and was second on the team with 36 points. His 21 goals were good to be ranked 12th in the NCAA, tied with Mario Lucia. He also had five power play goals and four game-winning goals.

Prior to his senior year, Downing had topped out at 15 goals his sophomore year, then scored just ten in his junior season.

Based on scouting reports, there are concerns about if his ceiling is really any higher than what we’ve already seen and there are questions as to how quickly he’ll be able to transition to the pro level. I’d guess that he winds up playing in Iowa next year and maybe gets a more serious crack at the roster in camp the following year if he’s able to be an impact player in Iowa. That’s also depending on what the NHL roster looks like at that point.

Here’s a look at Downing’s career so far:

With lots of draft picks traded away again this year, it’s not surprising that the Wild are working free agency again to replenish some of the depth they lost (or will lose) by not getting a full flight of draft picks. Free agent signings can be hit and miss. You’ve got guys like Justin Fontaine and Christian Folin who have contributed since being signed as un-drafted free agents, but that’s certainly not always the case. It’s also not easy to sign the kind of guys, like Folin, who are NHL-ready because there’s a lot of competition out there to land these guys.

The Wild are in a position right now, where the NHL squad is deep and they’re playoff-bound, so it’s difficult to compete with offers like those that are rumored to be going to Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor, who is being given the option of getting NHL games as soon as BU’s season ends.

Don’t expect the Wild to be done with free agency quite yet though. Last year, before the end of the season, they signed Christian Folin, Brady Brassart, and Zack Mitchell. They added more un-drafted free agents over the summer by signing Hunter Warner and signing few guys like Olivier Archamabault (drafted but a free agent) and Ryan Walters (un-drafted) to AHL contracts.

Downing is just one of a handful of players that is likely to be joining the Iowa roster before the season is out. That list will include 2014 7th round draft pick Pavel Jenys, who signed an ATO earlier this week.

Listen to an interview with Downing following his signing on Tuesday.

Next: Pavel Jenys Signs ATO With Wild

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