A lot of Red Wings fans were overwhelmed with joy when they realized that Jakob Chychrun had fallen to the 16th pick. Everyone, including myself, thought this was a dream scenario for the Wings. One of the top 2 way defenseman in the draft, a potential Top-10 pick, had fallen to them at 16. Exactly the type of player everyone knew they desperately needed to add to the system. Then Gary Bettman walked up to the stage and uttered his famous draft phrase “we have a trade to announce”. You all know the trade that broke after that so I won’t waste any time breaking that down but it did drop the Wings 4 spots in the draft and the Coyotes took Chychrun as expected. As good as the trade was by Holland, it left a lot of people wondering out loud, why they would pass up on that type of defenseman?
Four picks later the Red Wings took Dennis Cholowski. A smooth skating, smart, two way defenseman with great offensive upside.
“Oh, okay then.” – Everyone.
Unlike Chychrun, Chowlowski isn’t as ready physically. He still needs to fill out at 6’0”, 170 pounds. However, there is a lot to like about Chowloski, he skates with his head always up, stick on the ice, ready to make the next key play. He is a phenomenal passer, beautiful skater and reads both ends of the ice very well, the exact type of defenseman that are excelling in the NHL today.
He made significant strides from his first to second season playing for the Chiliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, increasing his offensive output by 13 points in 5 fewer games. He was one of the bigger risers in the draft going from a projected mid-late second round pick at the midterm rankings to a late first round projection in most final rankings, eventually rising all the way up to #20.
Detroit has a reputation for letting their players over-develop and I expect Cholowski to follow that path. He is committed to play for St. Cloud State next season where he’ll likely spend at least a couple seasons giving him time to mature physically and mentally. It should quickly give us an idea of where he stands playing at a level above the BCHL.
Cholowski is a prototypical Detroit Red Wing. He’s underspoken, not physically intimidating but he’s smooth, smart, sound and plays a calm yet productive game. If his development continues on the path it should, he could be a very important piece of Detroit’s Top-4 for a very long time.