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Dennis Cholowski Standing Out Among NHL’s Rookie Defensemen

The young blue-liner is shining not only in Hockeytown, but in the entire league as well.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There hasn’t been much to write home about in regard to the Detroit Red Wings’ first month of the 2018-19 NHL campaign. The team wasn’t projected to do very well, and they haven’t. The long and much-anticipated rebuild is in full effect this season, in all of it’s frustrating, confusing, but yet expected non-glory.

One of the few positives for the Wings and their fans alike has been the emergence of rookie defenseman, Dennis Cholowski. Considered both a project and questionable pick since being drafted 20th overall in 2016, Cholowski is proving that he has the tools to be a true NHL blue-liner.

Not only is he currently ranked 5th overall (tied with Frans Nielsen) in points on Detroit (two goals, three assists), Cholowski also leads the team in power play points with four (one goal, three assists). He also leads all Red Wings defenders in points (five), assists (three) and average time on ice (22:14). His 22:14 TOI also leads all Detroit skaters, both forwards and defensemen.

If you missed his first NHL goal on opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, here’s an example of what Cholowski brings to the table:

If you need a little additional statistical information to get excited about, Cholowski joins a fairly prolific/legendary Red Wings defender in his accomplishments through his first six regular season games played:

As fun as it may be to compare Cholowski to one of the greatest blue-liners to ever play the game, it is extremely unrealistic and way too early to hope that the second-coming of “the perfect human” is in the system. But for now, the kid is definitely standing out among Detroit’s young defenders.

But Cholowski isn’t just standing out in Hockeytown, he’s also among one of the best rookie defensemen currently in the league. To be more specific, he’s statistically the second highest ranked rookie blue-liner skating in the NHL.

In five or more regular season games played, only Maxime Lajoie of the Ottawa Senators has more points (four goals, three assists) and a better P/GP (0.88) than Cholowski (0.71 P/GP) out of all defensive rookies. However, Cholowski’s 22:14 TOI and 30.3 shifts per game is the highest out of all his freshman counterparts.

Just for the fun of comparison, Rasmus Dahlin, the 2018 first-overall pick/acclaimed Buffalo Sabres prospect, is averaging 19:03 TOI and 23.3 shifts per game. While Dahlin may be younger and the better player further on down the road, it’s worth noting the usage of the two young players.

With Detroit’s other young defensive prospects such as Libor Sulak, Filip Hronek and Joe Hicketts already bouncing back and forth between the AHL and NHL, and others like Vili Saarijarvi still looking to crack the lineup at some point, Cholowski solidifying his role on the roster certainly offers hope for the future.

And not to mention something to look forward to watching in what is already proving to be a very long and arduous season.

Like many things in life, you have to take the good with the bad, and sometimes you have to take a few steps backwards before you can advance, and the Red Wings rebuild certainly is no different. Cholowski sticking with the team and playing in as many games as he can, mistakes and all, is without a doubt, several steps in the right direction for the Red Wings.


Is Dennis Cholowski the real deal?

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