Dennis Cholowski has had quite the path to professional hockey, but that dream finally seems a reality. The Detroit Red Wings prospect has been assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he’ll likely suit up in the playoffs and then stay with for the 2018-19 season—that is, if he doesn’t make the NHL out of camp. Cholowski’s CHL team, the Portland Winterhawks, were eliminated from the WHL playoffs recently, ending his junior career.
In 2016, Cholowski was selected in the first round by the Red Wings who knew full well that he was planning on heading to college. The young defenseman had played in the BCHL to maintain NCAA eligibility, and was headed to St. Cloud State in 2016-17. He would make it to the collegiate ranks, but spend just one season at St. Cloud before signing his entry-level contract. That came with a single game for the Griffins last spring on an amateur tryout, though he’d have to wait for another opportunity in professional hockey.
Instead, he was sent to the CHL where he signed a deal with the Prince George Cougars. Prince George had drafted him way back in 2013 with the 200th selection in their bantam draft, never really expecting him to play for them. Instead, they received half a season—and an excellent one at that, scoring 39 points in 37 games—before moving him to Portland for a boatload of draft picks. Cholowski wold continue his strong play, scoring another 34 points in 44 games for the Winterhawks down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Cholowski was seen as a reach of sorts in his draft year, but looks like he’ll pay off for the Red Wings at the next level. A talented puck-mover, he’ll be a key part of how the Detroit re-tool looks over the next few seasons. For now, he’ll get some playoff experience with the Griffins who are trying to defend their 2017 Calder Cup Championship.