Detroit Red Wings: A look at their past five first-round picks

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Red Wings- Dennis Cholowski
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Dennis Cholowski: GP:52 | G:7 | A:9 | P:16

The injury bug plagued the Detroit Red Wings roster before the regular season even began, with injuries come opportunity. With Ericsson and Daley, all expected to miss time, the door was wide open for Cholowski to showcase his ability.

Heading into the 2016 NHL draft, it was the Red Wings that actually held the 16th overall pick. Pavel Datsyuk’s departure forced Ken Holland to look for a trade partner to dump his salary to, the Arizona Coyotes needed to reach the cap floor, and Holland believed their guy would still be available at 20th overall. The deal was done.

While Holland was eyeing Cholowski all along, the Coyotes drafted defenseman Jacob Chychrun. The rest is history. With injuries at the start of the season, Cholowski was given plenty of ice time to start his career. Penciled in on the top power-play, Cholowski served as the QB and thrived in the opportunity. Nine of Cholowski’s 16 points were all with the man-advantage, including four out of seven goals. Cholowski became one of the brighter spots in a horrible start to the regular season for the Red Wings.

As the season progressed, Cholowski’s defensive came started to falter against some of the top teams in the league. The positive thing regarding Cholowski, is his ability not to get caught up in the moment. Give credit where credit is due; he wasn’t afraid to make mistakes. With that being said, he often turned the puck over at costly moments. Cholowski finished sixth on the team with 50 giveaways, and second-most on the team for defenseman behind only Nick Jensen’s 52 per Fox Sports.

Despite finishing with the worst plus-minus on the team with a -20, there was a lot to be excited about with Cholowski. For one, his power-play QB skills were absolutely impressive for a defenseman who isn’t expected to pitch in a ton of offense. Cholowski’s best attributes are his smooth-skating ability, and calm demeanor. Early in the season, Cholowski looked like a veteran with the way he handled himself. Often with young players, it caught up to him as he was later sent down to the AHL. I expect Cholowski to fight for a spot come fall.

Potential: Top-4 defenseman.