Less than a year after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings 20th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, defenseman Dennis Cholowski mutually decided with along with the organization to turn pro and sign the traditional three-year entry level contact.
The news comes after just one season into his college career at St. Cloud State, where he scored a single goal and tallied 12 points in 36 games under noted college hockey bench boss Bob Motzko, the same man that lead Team USA to the Gold Medal in the 2017 World Junior Championship over Canada. This season in particular, the two-time WCHA Coach of the Year had some choice words in describing Cholowski’s growth under his watch, which could explain why Ken Holland and Detroit’s braintrust made this signing now.
“This has probably been the biggest jump in his hockey career. We’ve seen a lot of growth with Dennis. The talent you see is undeniable: the skating ability and his passing. You see it come in flashes and a little bit of wave. Not a lot of time passes when you don’t see (his talent). In between, you see where he needs to take the big growth steps in his game. All kids physically mature at a different age. He’s a 19-year-old in a 16-year-old body, but that’s a good thing. His upside is huge. He’s got an opportunity to develop into an elite player.”
Before the NCAA, the 19-year old blueliner logged two full seasons in the BCHL for the Chilliwack Chiefs, scoring 16 goals and 67 points total in 106 games, topping out at 12 markers and 40 points in 50 games the year he would be drafted, 2015-16.
Before the draft, Last Word on Hockey’s Prospect Guru Ben Kerr gave a scouting report on the incoming prospect.
“Cholowski is a strong two-way defender. Offensively he moves the puck very well, with a strong first pass out of the zone to get the transition game started. He has good vision and can make tape-to-tape passes through small openings. Due to high-end hockey sense and IQ, Cholowski often makes the right play with the puck on his stick. Cholowski’s speed is slightly above average, but he could improve by working on being more explosive in his stride. He can be overpowered and out muscled when fighting for loose pucks in the corner or attempting to clear the front of the net.”
He’ll likely report to Grand Rapids and start his full professional career next season. The Griffins have just clinched a playoff spot holding the top spot in the Central Division. According to the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, if the Langley, British Columbia native does not play 10 NHL games next season, being 19 he will earn an entry-level contract slide, meaning it would remain a three-year deal to keep him under club control.