When Michael Downing suited up for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League last season, he had the perfect security blanket -- his older brother and defense partner, Jake.
However, Jake was traded during the offseason, leaving younger brother to stand on his own. And after a slow start, Michael Downing finished the season strong and remained a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft.
Downing had 23 points, a plus-16 rating and 107 penalty minutes in 52 games this season, and is No. 49 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for this year's draft.
"I really like him," NHL Network analyst Craig Button told NHL.com. "I think he was raw coming out of Catholic Central [High School] in Detroit and going to that level. I just think when you start at that level and you continue to move up … I think Michael Downing has a terrific upside."