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Detroit Red Wings 25 Under 25 2017: Dennis Cholowski is #14

Where does Dennis Cholowski fit into the future of the Red Wings blue-line?

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

Vitals:

Position: Defense
Height/Weight: 6’1” 185lbs.
Shoots: Left
Birthday: Feb. 15, 1998
Birthplace: Langley, BC, Canada
Draft: 2016 Round 1, 20th Overall
League: WHL
Team: Prince George Cougars

Stats:

hockeydb.com

The Detroit Red Wings are in serious need of a defensive savior. The prospect pipeline is full of blue-line potential with players like Hronek, Saarijärvi, and Cholowski in addition to those like Ouellet, Jensen, and Sproul who have spent time with the big club. However, Detroit lacks a big-name, blue-chip defensive prospect that looks to be the number-one defenseman that the team sorely lacks. Time is running out for the older prospects to show the potential of a game-changing defenseman, so for now the hope of a true number-one defenseman lies with Hronek, Saarijärvi, and Cholowski.

Dennis Cholowski was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 draft. Detroit’s original 16th overall pick was famously traded to Arizona in order to get Pavel Datsyuk’s cap hit off the board, so the Wings could take a run at Steven Stamkos. Arizona took blue-chip defensive prospect Jakob Chychrun, and Detroit went with a project in Cholowski, who was considered a bit of a reach. While Cholowski may be burdened by comparisons to Chychrun for some time, he certainly has the potential to be a key part of Detroit’s future defense. Eventually (hopefully) those comparisons will be set aside as Dennis makes a name for himself in the Red Wings pipeline.

Strengths:

Dennis Cholowski is a strong two-way defenseman at the lower levels. He is a smooth skater with a very high hockey IQ. He has excellent positioning and great stickwork.

Cholowski’s skillset has him poised to become the smart, solid, and subtle blue-line quarterback that Detroit has been lacking. He will, however, require time to realize this potential.

Given Detroit’s current defensive logjam and dubious contract situation, his lengthened development timeline may be another strength. Detroit needs time to shed bad contracts and it unfortunately looks like they will also have to languish in the draft lottery section of the standings to stockpile for the future.

Areas for improvement:

Physical strength has been the biggest area of concern. However, he is young and a late-bloomer, so there is a great chance that he continues to fill into his 6’1” frame as he began to do last year in college. His shot is not elite, but could also improve as he becomes stronger.

His first and last season in the NCAA at St. Cloud State did not go as well as Wings fans would have hoped. He registered 1 goal and 11 assists in 36 games played as he struggled adjusting to college hockey. He is still at least a year away from being ready for the AHL.

What to look for next year:

Dennis is set to play for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL next year. Hopefully, this path will be best for his development as he will be better able to control the flow of the game at the WHL level compared to his struggles in the NCAA.

Look for him to continue to build size and strength, and for him to become a game-changer at the WHL level.

Conclusion:

While Cholowski is certainly an exciting defensive prospect, his development journey will be long. He is the smart, agile, puck-moving, high-ceiling defensive prospect that the Red Wings need in the pipeline. Hopefully Detroit’s reach and patience will be rewarded when the younger crop of talent is ready to propel the Red Wings back to the top of the NHL.

Poll

Where do you think Cholowski will end up in the Red Wings lineup?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Number 1 Defenseman
    (23 votes)
  • 16%
    Solid top-pairing
    (122 votes)
  • 45%
    Top 4
    (335 votes)
  • 21%
    Complementary/top 6
    (157 votes)
  • 2%
    Healthy Scratch
    (19 votes)
  • 10%
    2-way contract (NHL & AHL)
    (75 votes)
731 votes total Vote Now