General manager Ron Francis and the Seattle Kraken select defenseman Dennis Cholowski from the Detroit Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
Drafted 20th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Cholowski was touted as a smooth-skating, offensive defenseman with top-four pairing potential. Since his arrival in Detroit, he has failed to reach the potential he showed during his junior career, playing in just 104 NHL games in his three-year career.
In his first professional season, Cholowski spent most of his time in the NHL, playing 52 games with the Detroit Red Wings. He scored seven goals and nine assists for 16 points during that time while adding 12 assists in 25 games in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He would join the Griffins during their 2018-19 playoff run, adding two more assists in five games.
However, Cholowski’s NHL progress stalled out from that point on, with him only playing in 52 games in the next two seasons combined, splitting his time between the Red Wings and Griffins In 2019-20, he played 36 games in Detroit, scoring two goals and eight points. In Grand Rapids, he played 30 games that year, scoring three goals and 10 assists for 13 points.
Related: Seattle Expansion Draft Tracker
After a long offseason for the Red Wings, following the postponement of the NHL season in March and Detroit missing the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Cholowski saw 16 games of action in the NHL. He scored one goal and three points in that time. He also spent 13 games with the Griffins that season, adding three goals and 10 points.
What Cholowski Brings To The Kraken
At just 23 years of age, Cholowski still has a lot of time to develop into the high-powered offensive defenseman he was touted as, and he showed what he could do in the AHL this season. He put up almost point-per-game with the Griffins this past season, and if he could produce at even half that rate, he would be a staple on the Kraken’s blue line.
He has the potential to crack Seattle’s roster this season and possibly quarterback their second power-play unit. With his strong hockey IQ, he has a lot to offer to the Kraken offensively, but he will need to refine his defensive ability in order to stick around in the NHL.
If he’s ready, expect him to be on Seattle’s second or third pair, helping them produce more offensively. If paired with the right partner, his defensive mishaps could be masked and he may be given more freedom to step up in the offensive zone to score a few more points.
If he’s not ready, he can still be a very cheap organizational depth piece. Since he is a restricted free agent, Francis will still need to work out a deal with the 6-foot, 197-pound defender if he is to suit up for the Kraken this season.
Other Notable Red Wings Left Unprotected
- F Valtteri Filppula
- F Sam Gagner
- F Vladislav Namestnikov
- F Evgeny Svechnikov
- D Christian Djoos
- D Troy Stecher
- G Jonathan Bernier
- G Calvin Pickard
Colby Guy is a writer for the Florida Panthers department here at THW. He’s a senior at Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as a social media manager and photographer for FAU Owls Nest. Previously, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators writer. He also served as Editor-In-Chief for FAU’s University Press. You can find him on Twitter at @ColbyDGuy.