Michigan defensemen Zach Werenski, Michael Downing sign pro contracts

After finishing up 25-8-5 and coming up just short of another bid at the Frozen Four, players from the Michigan Wolverines that with rights to an NHL team now have decisions to make of whether they stay in college or go pro.

For two Wolverine blue-liners, they have decided to make the jump and leave the program – sophomore Zach Werenski and junior Michael Downing.

Werenski was tied for sixth on the team with 11 goals, third with 25 points, and fourth with 36 points. The 2015 first-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets has agreed to a contract with the club’s Cleveland-based AHL team, the Lake Erie Monsters.

Downing potted just three goals this season but collected 20 points in total and was fifth on the team in the +/- department with a +20. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Canton-native signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Florida Panthers, whom he was drafted by in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

He will report to Florida’s AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, on an amateur try-out.

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