Chychrun, Red Wings' Cholowski progressing after 2016 draft night trade

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski has two goals and six assists in 20 games this season.

Detroit — With the Arizona Coyotes in town it seemed like a good time to revisit The Trade.

OK, maybe it doesn’t necessarily deserve capital letters. But it was a noteworthy deal, indeed.

On the evening of the NHL Entry Draft in 2016, the Wings were able to unload the last year of Pavel Datsyuk’s contract after he had retired, eliminating the salary cap charge, to the Arizona Coyotes.

The Wings sent the final year of Datsyuk’s contract and their first-round pick (No. 16 overall) to the Coyotes for Arizona’s first-round pick (No. 20) and second-round pick (No. 53), along with forward Joe Vitale (who never dressed for the Wings).

The Wings drafted defenseman Dennis Cholowski with their first-round pick, and defenseman Filip Hronek with the second-round pick.

Arizona chose defenseman Jakob Chychrun at No. 16 overall.

For many hockey fans in Detroit, the trade will always be monitored because Chychrun was a highly-regarded prospect that fell in the draft that evening.

Cholowski hasn’t paid much attention, he said, after Tuesday’s morning skate.

“Not really,” Cholowski said. “It wasn’t really anything I ever focused on, to be honest with you. I haven’t paid any attention to it, at all.

“I’ve never played against him, never knew him growing up or anything. He’s a big guy, skates well. I was around him at the NHL (draft) combine. He was already filled out pretty much, a man already. Big guy, skates well, and a pretty good player for sure.”

So how have Chychrun and Cholowski’s careers (they’re both 20 years old) evolved since the 2016 draft night?

Cholowski (6 feet, 195 pounds) reached the NHL for the first time in October and has been a pleasant surprise, with eight points (two goals, six assists) in 15 games, with a minus-4 plus-minus rating while playing more than 20 minutes per game (20:43).

Chychrun (6-foot-2, 210 pounds)  made it to the NHL his first training camp, and has played in 118 games over two injury-marred seasons, with 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) and a minus-12 rating. Last season, in 50 games, Chychrun had 14 points (four goals) with a plus-2 rating.

Chychrun was expected to make his season debut Tuesday, after having off-season knee surgery.

At this point in the trade, it’s safe to say both sides are probably happy with who they have — and it’s going to take much longer to evaluate who got the best of this trade.

“It’s a good lesson in patience and evaluating guys,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Chychrun will be a very good player in this league, and Cholowski will be a very good player in the league. We have to give it time in the evaluation process.

“Getting into the league early doesn’t necessarily make a you a great long-term player. Having success early in your career doesn’t necessarily make you a good long-term player. Proving it over and over again for a number of years makes you a good long-term player.

“From where I sit, we’ve got a good player in Cholowski who has a chance to be a real top-4 type of NHL defensemen. I also say we got a real good player in Filip Hronek who isn’t here with us now, but will be at some point over the course of this season or next, and who’s a real good prospect, too.”

Hronek played six games with the Wings at the start of this season when the defense was riddled with injuries, and had three points (one goal, two assists) while playing over 19 minutes per game.

Great cause

The Wings will host the organization’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Tuesday against the Coyotes.

More than 100 cancer patients, survivors, caretakers and researchers from American Cancer Society will attend the game.

They also attended the morning skate and afterward had lunch in the Comerica Players Club, and had a meet-and-greet opportunity with Wings players.

“One of my best, closest friends had their oldest boy go through leukemia,” Blashill said. “He’s now 14 and doing great, and went through a tough battle. I wasn’t there but I lived through them and I know how hard it is, not just for the youngsters but for the families. It’s something you certainly don’t want to wish on anybody.”

Ice chips

Injured players Jonathan Ericsson, Jacob de la Rose and Thomas Vanek all skated during Tuesday’s optional skate, but only de la Rose could be returning this week.

“I would say de la Rose, of them, would be the closest (to returning) for sure,” Blashill said.

…There’s a strong local touch to the Coyotes’ roster. Defenseman Jordan Oesterle (Dearborn Divine Child/Western Michigan) and forwards Brendan Perlini (Detroit Belle Tire), Christian Fischer (USA National Team Development Program) and Clayton Keller (USNTDP 2014-16) and goaltender Hunter Miska (USNTDP 2011-13) all played youth hockey in the area.

Perlini was a teammate of Dylan Larkin’s at Belle Tire squad from 2010-12.

Twitter: @tkulfan