NHL teams never grow weary of giving fresh starts to NHL first-round draft picks.
The Detroit Red Wings drafted Dennis Cholowski 20th overall in 2016 and this season he will play for his fourth NHL organization. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello gave Cholowski a two-year contract for an average of $762,500 per season.
According to CapFriendly.com, Cholowski’s NHL salary is $750,000 and his minor league salary is $200,000 for this season. The 24-year-old Canadian is guaranteed $225,000. CapFriendly.com shows that next season the deal pays him $775,000 whether he is in the NHL or the American Hockey League.
That contract suggests the Islanders still see some potential in Cholowski, who was waived twice last season. Right now, he might be No. 7 or No. 8 on the New York Islanders defensive depth chart.
Cholowski is a good low-cost bet for #isles. Former 1st round draft pick. Outlook pre-draft:
Smooth skating offensive-minded defenceman with top-four upside if he can improve defensively. Has the ability to quarterback a power play at the NHL level.
— James Nichols (@JamesNicholsNYI) August 23, 2022
The Seattle Kraken claimed him from Detroit in the expansion draft on July 21, 2021. When he couldn’t crack the team’s lineup last October, they put him on waivers. The Washington Capitals claimed him. Later in the season, on Feb. 9, the Capitals waived him. The Kraken reclaimed him.
Cholowski played seven games for Washington and four for Seattle. He managed three assists in those 11 games. But the Kraken decided not to give him a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Since he turned pro, the read on Cholowski hasn’t changed. He is a smooth offensive defenseman, a gifted puck handler. But he’s not aggressive enough defensively as he needs to be. Cholowski played 52 games for the Red Wings in 2018-19 and registered seven goals.
Cholowski had nine goals in his first 88 NHL games. But his plus-minus was -46 in those 88 games.
It’s not uncommon for first-round picks who fail to stick with their original team to get multiple chances for a fresh start. The Vancouver Canucks drafted defenseman Olli Juolevi fifth overall in the same 2016 NHL draft. He has played for Vancouver, the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings.
The Red Wings didn’t make him a qualifying offer and he signed with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Islanders clearly were looking to add some defensive depth for the organization. Cholowski can help their AHL affiliate and be there if they need help because of injuries. He totaled 18 points in 31 games for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
The Islanders know Cholowski has first-round skill, and every GM believes his team can develop players better than other teams.