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Wings trade Datsyuk's contract, draft D Cholowski

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Buffalo – Trading Pavel Datsyuk’s contract didn’t prove to be all that difficult after all.

In fact, the Red Wings appear to have come out of the entire situation stronger than ever.

General manager Ken Holland was able to move Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary cap space – along with the Red Wings’ original first-round pick – to the Arizona Coyotes.

In return, the Red Wings acquired Arizona’s first-round pick, 20th overall, where the Red Wings selected defenseman Dennis Cholowski, Arizona’s second-round pick Saturday (53rd overall) and the contract of Coyotes forward Joe Vitale.

“It’s huge,” said Holland of trading Datsyuk’s contract. “It’s $7.5 million, every day we were looking. There were a lot of different teams, more than I expected, with a lot of different scenarios. But in some cases, obviously, they wanted to move bad contracts.

“I was okay waiting until July 1 (the start of unrestricted free agency) but we were going to have to play a steeper price. But I didn’t want to pay a lot of assets.”

So Holland moved Datsyuk’s contract, only dropped four spots in the first round, and gained a second-round draft pick.

“A deal has to be a win-win,” Holland said. “It was a deal both sides are happy with.”

With the first-round pick, the Coyotes selected defenseman Jakob Chychrun, a highly-touted player who was ranked as one of the top two or three defensemen in the draft.

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“They had a player that was rated in the top 10 a year ago,” Holland said. “There was a player, Chychrun, that was falling they were excited about.”

Chychrun was the key as far as Arizona GM John Chayka was concerned.

“It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time,” Chayka said. “There were few teams that can take that contract on. I talked to Kenny at length about it and when Chychrun started to fall, we started to make calls to see what we can do.

“I thought Kenny was going to keep the pick. I thought that was a good leverage point to utilize. We made the call on the floor and I got the player I wanted and Kenny got the space he needed.”

For the Red Wings the opportunity to free up the cap space – and yet remain in the first-round and gain a second-round pick – was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

The Red Wings were searching desperately to unload the cap room from Datsyuk’s contract to make a run at unrestricted free agents July 1 – notably Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos.

New Red Wing Cholowski 'real intelligent, driven'

“Hopefully spend it,” said Holland, of what he intends to do with the new-found cap space. “Obviously for the most part we’re looking at forwards. Pavel Datsyuk is gone. Obviously we’ll be looking at forwards.”

The Lightning and Stamkos do not appear to be getting any closer, with Stamkos likely to test the free agent market July 1.

Stamkos and other prospective free agents are able to begin talking to interested teams Saturday.

"Certainly I'll be on the phone," Holland said.

DENNIS CHOLOWSKI 

Pick: First round (20th)

Position: Defense

Ht./Wt.: 6-1/177

Team: Chilliwack (British Columbia junior league)

Stats: 50 games, 40 points(12 goals)

Notable: An offensive defenseman and great skater, but has to work on his defensive game. ... Headed to play college hockey at St. Cloud State (Minn.) this season.