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Duff: Why The Red Wings Shouldn’t Protect Dennis Cholowski In NHL Expansion Draft



The Detroit Red Wings should be exposing Dennis Cholowski to the Seattle Kraken in the upcoming NHL expansion draft

The Detroit Red Wings are going to have to make a decision whether to protect Dennis Cholowski or Troy Stecher for the July 21 NHL expansion draft that will stock the incoming Seattle Kraken. There are pros and cons to keeping or exposing each defenseman.

Here’s five reasons why Cholowski should be the guy who the Wings make available in the expansion draft.

1. Cholowski Can’t Get Out Of His Own Head Space

He who hesitates is lost. It’s just possible that Cholowski is too smart for his own good. He’s the first one to admit that he gets himself in trouble by overthinking the game rather than relaxing and relying on his instincts to dictate his decisions. Off the ice, Cholowski has a laid-back, easy-going surfer dude type of personality. His problem is that he takes that laissez-fair approach with him when he skates out between the boards.

2. Stecher Stepped Up At Worlds

Stecher was a prominent presence for Canada as the Canadians edged Finland 3-2 in overtime in the gold-medal game at the IIHF World Championship. He logged a game-high 37 shifts and also led all skaters in ice time, skating 27:46. Stecher played 10:22 in the third period alone. It was a sensational individual skill play by Stecher that created Andrew Mangiapane’s overtime winner against Russia in the quarterfinals.

Over the years, several NHL players have taken a step up in stature after experiencing a chance to shine at the worlds. Perhaps that might happen for Stecher.

3. Some Veteran Experience Required

It’s all well and good to fall in love with prospects and to wax poetic about potential but the fact of the matter is that potential means that they haven’t achieved anything yet. The Wings know what they have in Stecher. Yes, he’s 27 and isn’t likely to get any better. Cholowski, 23, could. That’s true. It’s also true that the same bufuddling issues with Cholowski remain in place five years afer he was originally drafted by the Red Wings. If Detroit buys out Danny DeKeyser and doesn’t re-sign Marc Staal, veteran NHL rearguards will be in short supply on the Red Wings roster. That would make Stecher an asset.

4. Will He Ever Figure It Out?

There’s certainly appeal in the package that Cholowski offers. A smooth skater, he’s an offensive-minded defenseman with the skill level to run a powerplay.

He’s been considered to have top-four upside but he must improve defensively and learn to fight for space and take it away from opponents. In the risk vs reward balance with Cholowski, risk keeps on winning.

5. It Was Bad Karma From The Get Go

The first round of the 2016 NHL entry draft still continues to haunt the Red Wings. Originally owners of the 16th overall pick in that draft, when Pavel Datsyuk bolted home to Russia with a year left on his contract, the Wings traded the dead money of Datsyuk’s remaining salary cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes. Swapping first-round selections was part of that deal.

Arizona took defenseman Jakob Chychrun at No. 16. The Wings tabbed Cholowski at No. 20. While Chychrun led all NHL defensmen with 16 goals last season, Cholowski has split his three NHL seasons beween the Red Wings and their Grand Rapids AHL farm club.