New Red Wing Cholowski 'real intelligent, driven'

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Dennis Cholowski shakes hands with Ken Holland after being drafted Friday.

Buffalo – Immediately you get the sense defenseman Dennis Cholowski is a bit different from other hockey players.

The Red Wings’ first-round pick Friday, 20th overall (acquired in the trade with Arizona in which the Red Wings shipped Pavel Datsyuk’s contract the other way), is a bookworm.

And he loves to study.

“I’ve always been very good at school, I do a lot of homework, read a lot of books,” Cholowski said. “The last book I read was 1984 by George Orwell. I really liked that book. I guess that’s my favorite right now.”

Cholowski’s smarts, on and off the ice, along with his skating ability and potential, made him a natural choice for the Red Wings, said Tyler Wright, director of amateur scouting.

“He’s just a real intelligent kid,” Wright said. “He’s a very driven kid. It sounds almost boring, but he’s committed to what he wants to do in his life. That’s impressive for a kid at his age, to have those kinds of beliefs.”

Cholowski is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound offensive defenseman who had 12 goals and 28 assists (40 points) in 56 games with Chilliwick.

Most scouting services view Cholowski as an exceptional skater but still working on his defensive development.

Some mock drafts had Cholowski slipping because of the level of competition – the British Columbia junior league is a level below the three major junior Canadian leagues.

Cholowski was relieved to finally hear his name Friday.

“It was getting a little bit anxious,” Cholowski said. “A little bit nervous, just waiting for my name to be called. Thankfully it did, so I’m very happy.”

Wright views Cholowski as the type of player the Red Wings are looking for.

“He’s a beautiful skater, effortless skater,” Wright said. “You can’t have enough smart, good puck moving defensemen on your hockey club.”

Cholowski will be attending St. Cloud State (Minnesota) next season.

His lack of size was a key reason Cholowski bypassed major junior hockey for the level below in British Columbia.

“When my WHL (Western League) bantam draft, I was pretty small and I got selected in the 10th round,” Cholowski said. “The BCHL and college route kind of presented itself to me. I was able to make the (Chilliwack) Chiefs, played for them for two years and commit to St. Cloud State.

“Here I am now, it worked out from there.”

Wright feels Cholowski will get taller and bigger physically – Cholowski’s brother is 6-foot-3 – and Cholowski already sees the difference in his game the past few years.

“For sure, when I was younger I was always small and not being able to really throw my body in the corners, that kind of thing,” Cholowski said. “Now that I’ve grown up and I realized I’m not small anymore, now I can use my body a little bit more, use it to my advantage offensively and defensively.”

Cholowski was thrilled to be joining an Original Six organization such as the Red Wings.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, unbelieveable franchise, and I’m extremely happy right now,” Cholowski said. “I watched (Nicklas Lidstrom) growing up, watched Steve Yzerman, a lot of great players, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg. Growing up watching those guys, they’re an inspiration for me and here I am now.”