Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2016 Draft Articles Click here.
After being drafted by the Prince George Cougars in the 2013 WHL Draft, defenceman Dennis Cholowski choose to play in the BCHL rather than the WHL. By playing for the Chilliwack Chiefs, Cholowski has maintained his NCAA eligibility and is committed to play for the St. Cloud State University Huskies next season. Cholowoski put up 12 goals and 40 points in 50 games for the Chiefs this season, and added four more goals and 15 points in 20 playoff games. He was named a BCHL Second Team All-Star for his efforts. He also received international experience this season, putting up a pair of points at the Under-19 World Junior A Hockey Championships. Cholowski teamed with fellow highly ranked prospects Dante Fabbro, and Tyson Jost to help Team Canada West win the gold medal.
Dennis Cholowski Scouting Report – 2016 NHL Draft #44
Defense — Shoots Left
Born Feb 15 1998 — Langley, BC
Height 6’01” — Weight 165 lbs [185 cm / 75 kg]
Dennis 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. At the offensive blue line, he is poised with the puck on his stick, and willing to hold onto it and move laterally in order to create passing and shooting lanes. 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 doesn’t have a cannon from the point, but it has decent power. More importantly he keeps it low and gets it on net through traffic. He also has the stick handling skill to also get involved in leading the rush, or carrying the puck through the neutral zone.
Cholowski’s speed is slightly above average, but he could improve by working on being more explosive in his stride. His edgework and agility is good, allowing him to walk the line and make those plays at the offensive blue line. In terms of lower body strength and power, he could stand to add some muscle. 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 works hard down low, but the muscle just isn’t there to be effective right now. He has a very skinny frame right now, and there is certainly room to add some muscle over the next several years.
Dennis Cholowski is a very smart defender. He seems to always be in the right position. He keeps attackers to the outside, keeping himself between the puck and the net at all times. Cholowski maintains good gap control as well. As mentioned he will need to add muscle to his frame in order to be more effective when facing big and physical forwards. He is willing to block shots and uses an active stick to cut down on passing lanes. Cholowski retrieves pucks quickly, has the ability to avoid forecheckers, and gets the puck out of the zone quickly and into the offensive transition.
Going the college route could be an excellent decision for Cholowski. Playing a reduced schedule, mainly Friday and Saturday night games, gives Cholowski the time to increase his strength and improve his game before moving to the next level. He has the raw skills to become a top four defenceman going forward, but is a real project. Dennis Cholowski is a real boom or bust pick as we head into the draft. His game is reminiscent of Brian Rafalski, but this is a comparison based on style only, and not one based on talent or potential.
The following is a compilation of Dennis Cholowski highlights, taken from youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #45 prospect on our NHL Draft Board.
Main Photo via Getty Images Sport.