Defenseman: Dennis Cholowski
Again, many may not consider Dennis Cholowski as a traditional ‘prospect’ due to having played 88 career NHL games over the last couple of seasons. The Detroit Red Wings selected Cholowski with the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Level Draft.
Like Michael Rasmussen, I’ve decided to add Cholowski to this list because he’s yet to prove that he will have the ability to be an NHL regular. However, he’s certainly shown positive flashes of what he can bring to the table.
Cholowski is a tremendous skating defender that rushes the puck up ice with ease. During his time with the Red Wings, Cholowski displayed above-average vision making a reliable outlet pass. The young defenseman also enjoyed plenty of power-play opportunities where he’d be most effective at operating the point.
It was in the defensive zone where Cholowski suffered the most heartache. He’d be paired with Trevor Daley or Jonathan Ericsson during his time in Detroit. The logic made sense; sure, you’d want to pair a young defenseman with a veteran, someone a player trying to make it could learn from on the fly.
The problem with both Daley and Ericsson were their diminishing skill-sets. Cholowski and whoever he’d be paired with struggled with defensive zone coverage, often leading to a plethora of turnovers. Defensive zone turnovers often end with a goaltender scooping a puck out of the back of their net, a scene that’s occurred far too often in Detroit over the past few seasons.
The young defenseman played 30 games last year with the Griffins playing like a top-four defender, recording three goals and 13 points but maintained a minus -15 rating.
Cholowski played just 36 games with the Red Wings last season, recording two goals and eight points, and skated as a minus -26. He’s amassed 24 career points in 88 NHL games.
I expect Cholowski to be a regular in Detroit’s lineup during the 2021 season, and hopefully, he can prove he belongs, but he will need to beat someone like Alex Biega out early on in the season.
NHL ETA (Again): 2021