“It’s been a whirlwind.”
That’s an apt description of the last seven months from Dennis Cholowski, to say the least.
The defenseman was selected by Seattle in the expansion draft on July 21 and attended training camp. As the regular season rolled around the Kraken placed Cholowski on waivers in a move likely to set up his assignment to Charlotte, but on Oct. 14 he was claimed by Washington. He logged seven games over the next few months for the Capitals before winding up back on waivers, where he was claimed by Seattle and immediately assigned to Charlotte.
It’s certainly been a journey for the 24-year-old.
“I’ve been on the east coast, then to the west coast, now back to the east coast,” said Cholowski. “I’ve been all over the United States and my girlfriend and I have been traveling. It’s been a cool year, seeing a lot of places, but it’s definitely been a whirlwind for sure.”
Cholowski didn’t have much time to acclimate himself to his new squad - as he entered the Charlotte lineup just two days after being claimed by Seattle - but he has quickly fit into the group.
“It’s been good,” said Cholowski. “Everyone has been really great, the D corps is really good. They’ve welcomed me in and I feel comfortable.”
The 20th overall pick by Detroit in 2016, Cholowski brings a puck-moving pedigree to the Kraken organization.
“I want to be an offensive guy,” said Cholowski. “I want to be up in the play as much as I can. But also still be reliable and have the trust to go out on the penalty kill and in those defensive situations as well.”
That offensive flair has been on full display with the Checkers, as Cholowski lit the lamp in his Charlotte debut and has since posted six points in 10 games with his new club.
“Dennis has offensive upside that immediately jumps out at you,” said Checkers Assistant Coach and Seattle staffer Dan Bylsma. “When he stepped out onto the ice for us he gets the goal, then he had another play in that last game where he jumps in from the weak side and has a chance at the net. It was his offense from the blue line on the True goal from a few nights ago. He has a unique ability to pass the puck and to join the play. He added that immediately when he stepped onto our ice.”
Back with the organization that plucked him from Detroit, Cholowski is carrying the message from the Seattle brass with him as he finetunes his game in Charlotte.
“Just come down and play my game - be aggressive, be assertive,” said Cholowski. "Not really try to worry about too much else other than going out and being me and trying to be as aggressive as I can be in the D zone and in the O zone.”
In Bylsma’s eyes, fleshing out his complete game will be what sets Cholowski apart.
“I think for Dennis it’s all about playing defense,” said Bylsma, who previously worked with Cholowski in the Detroit organization. “He’s got to get better and stronger at his stick battles, killing plays and being strong at the net. That’s where he’s got to improve and when he does he’ll be a National Hockey League player.”
After going through a whirlwind of a season, gaining a sense of stability can do wonders for Cholowski.
“I think he played seven games for the Capitals through something like 45 games, so he was out of the lineup a bunch and not really settling in,” said Bylsma. “It’s good for Dennis to get here, settle in, get playing games with us and getting on that road to improvement so he can be in the National Hockey League.”