Detroit Red Wings: Is Dennis Cholowski better than Rasmus Dahlin?

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 17: Dennis Cholowski #21 of the Detroit Red Wings checks Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils during the first period at the Prudential Center on November 17, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 17: Dennis Cholowski #21 of the Detroit Red Wings checks Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils during the first period at the Prudential Center on November 17, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Saturday night featured some high flying, scoring forwards and some terrific goaltending.  We also had a chance to get a good look at Rasmus Dahlin and Dennis Cholowski while the Detroit Red Wings hosted the Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres bested the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 victory which saw the teams compete in a seven-round shootout to decide the contest. Coming into the game the Sabres were and remained the hottest team in the NHL.  They have now won nine straight games and have shown no signs of slowing down.

The game was just as advertised, a lot of scoring chances combined with young speed and skill spread out all over the ice.  Jeff Skinner went into the game tied as the top goal scorer in the NHL and buried a goal.  He would be passed through in goals because of a Patrick Laine five-goal outburst.

Dylan Larkin was able to net his ninth goal on the season.  It was good for Larks to get back on the score sheet.  He has been fighting it of late on the offensive side of things only recording two points in his last five games going into the game last night.  Although the goals dried up a little bit, he continues to play a complete game every night.

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Anthony Mantha delivered the mail, something that is quite sparse at the moment in his home country of Canada (who are in the midst of a postal strike).  He recorded his seventh goal of the season and has played much better of late which has led to Jeff Blashill rolling him out 20 plus minutes over his last two games.

Mantha has made a couple of nice plays in his own zone protecting the puck from the opposition and helping his defensemen to clear the D zone.  Mantha has been moving his feet over the last little bit and has been rewarded for it.

A matchup or comparison I was excited to see was Rasmus Dahlin and Dennis Cholowski on the ice opposing one another.  Dahlin, of course, the highly touted first overall selection in this past summer’s draft started off a bit slow but has found his way of late for the Sabres.

Dahlin needed to get his feet wet and become comfortable with the game, and he has.  He is only 18 years old with huge potential.  Over his last five games, he has recorded five points. On the season Dahlin has played 24 games, 2 goals, 11 assists totaling 13 points and is a plus 5.  That is quite impressive for a player of his age. I mean a rookie defender on pace to notch 50 points and be a plus 20 at the age of 18–I’ll take that all day long.  He is averaging 19:00 TOI minutes a night for the Sabres.

Dennis Cholowski has been no slouch either.  He was sort of a surprise this fall.  We heard good things about him and with the injuries to the Detroit Red Wings defense-corps to start the season allowed Cholowski an opportunity to stick.  “Stick” is precisely what he’s been able to do.  At times he has shown the ability to be the best defender on this team.  He has had those rookie type appearances as well mostly in his own zone blowing coverage of not finding the proper outlet to clear the zone cleanly.

This brings me back to the original question– Is Cholowski better than Dahlin? No.  But it isn’t all bad, Dahlin is definitely the better player today and will be in the future, but Dennis Cholowski has been a bright spot on an aging back-end for the Detroit Red Wings.  Cholowski, though 21 games has recorded 3 goals and 7 assists to total 10 points and is a minus 5.  He is averaging 19:54 TOI per game which is nearly a minute more a night than Dahlin.

Not winning the draft lottery took the air out of a lot of Detroit Red Wings fans, but if Filip Zadina is as advertised and Dennis Cholowski can continue to develop into a top-four NHL defenceman it won’t but a terrible alternative to losing out on Dahlin.

Detroit has been desperate to add a pure scorer, Zadina is supposed to be a sniper.  If Dennis Cholowski continues to develop and learn from the likes of Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall, it will bode well for the future of the franchise.  They need to continue to draft well especially on the defensive side of things to add pieces to go with Cholo.

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Filip Hronek is expected to be an NHL defender at some point either this season or to start next.  We will take a look at the other prospects in the system in the coming weeks, until then keep watching Dennis gain confidence and grow.