In anticipation of the Seattle Kraken‘s inaugural season, we at The Hockey Writers are taking a deep dive into each player. This installment focuses on defenceman Dennis Cholowski whom the Kraken selected from the Detroit Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
2020-21 Team: Detroit Red Wings
2020-21 Season: Cholowski split time between the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL) last season. He played 16 games with the Detroit Red Wings and 13 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins. During his 16 games with the Red Wings, he posted one goal and two assists along with six penalty minutes.
Type of Acquisition: Expansion draft.
Cholowski is a west coast kid who played in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and the Western Hockey League (WHL). The native of Langley, BC, suited up for 106 games with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL from 2013-2016. His best season was 2015-16, where he helped the Chiefs make the league championship. He was also selected to Team Canada West for the 2015 World Junior A Challenge. The team won Gold and featured future NHLers Cale Makar, Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost.
After a year in the NCAA, Cholowski returned to BC as part of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. He was traded midseason to the Portland Winterhawks. In 69 games that season, he finished with 14 goals, 52 assists and 66 points. He finished in the top ten for goals, assists, points and power-play points among WHL defenders.
Throughout his career, Cholowski has split time between the AHL and WHL. He has played 69 games for the Grand Rapid Griffins through parts of five seasons and 104 games with the Detroit Red Wings through parts of four seasons. This happened because he still needs to develop parts of his game, which is why he was sent down during each season. Specifically, his work in the defensive zone.
Some positives are connected to a player being sent down and brought up multiple times in their career. First, they understand how hard it is to make the NHL and how they need to fight to be a part of every night’s lineup. The other is they can help other players in similar situations. Some players struggle when this situation happens. Having someone on the roster who has been through this could help keep others motivated if they do get sent down. It may not seem like a big deal, but it could be the difference between a player improving in the AHL or being stuck there for the rest of the season.
Can Produce on the Power Play
From junior to the NHL, Cholowski has always found a way to produce on the power play. He has excellent speed and puckhandling ability and can play that powerplay quarterback position well. Despite the Red Wings have the 30th ranked power play over the past three seasons, he has found a way to produce at a steady level. In 249:39 minutes, he has 14 points and 27 shots. His five goals scored are also most by a defenceman on the team in that time frame.
The big question is if Cholowski can get into the lineup, will there be room for him to play the power play. With players like Mark Giordano and Vince Dunn, along with the abundance of talent the forwards have, there may not be room for him. However, if he does get the opportunity, watch for him to contribute throughout the season when playing with the extra man.
Fit on the Team
Seattle’s defense is stacked with NHL talent. This means Cholowski will probably be in the same situation he has found himself in throughout his career. Being recalled and sent down to the minors whenever injury or poor play by the team occurs. He has a shot at making the team, but he could be starting the season in the minors unless a trade or injury happens.
A Good Selection by the Kraken
Even if Cholowski plays the entire season in the minors, he would still have been the right selection for the Kraken in the Expansion Draft. The team could have brought in a player with more experience like Troy Stecher or Danny Dekeyser, but Cholowski allows them to have that young promising player that can be sent down if needed. He can really make a difference for this team in the future, so do not be surprised if he is a regular on the blueline by the end of the season.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Adam is excited to be part of the Kraken’s inaugural season and ready to bring you in depth coverage of the NHL’s 32nd team.