Just because Dennis Cholowski has been drafted — by one of the premier National Hockey League franchises no less — does not mean he will rest on his laurels.
The Detroit Red Wings selected the 18-year-old from Langley in the first round, 20th overall, during the NHL entry draft on Friday at Buffalo’s First Niagara Centre.
“It is very exciting thing to get drafted in the first round but what it really means is the hard work starts now,” Cholowski said on Monday, the day after returning from Buffalo.
“I have to get in the gym and get bigger and stronger and continually working on my game and be better on the ice. The hard work is not over, it is just starting.”
Cholowski was in Buffalo with his parents, John and Natalie, older brother Frederick, and his cousin, Christian Laughland.
Jason Tatarnic, Cholowski’s head coach with the B.C. Hockey League’s Chilliwack Chiefs the past two seasons, was also in attendance.
At the NHL Combine earlier this month, 29 of the 30 NHL clubs — all except Pittsburgh — spoke to Cholowski.
He had no idea who might draft him — or when — but he said Tatarnic suspected the Wings were interested. And after they acquired the 20th pick, the Chiefs coach came and sat beside Cholowski and his family.
“That kind of gave me suspicion and sure enough, it turns out to be them,” Cholowski said.
“It was a blur. Just so exciting for me and my family. Jumping around and screaming. It was a surreal experience for sure.”
Tyler Wright, Detroit’s director of amateur scouting, told DetroitRedWings.com that Cholowski was a really good fit for their organization.
“We think he’s just kind of hitting the top of the iceberg,” Wright said.
“He’s a young kid that’s still growing, could be one of the best-skating defencemen in this draft. So we’re really intrigued by size, skating ability, puck-moving ability.
“You can’t have enough smart, good puck-moving defencemen on your hockey club.”
Cholowski attended the draft’s second day as well, sitting with other Red Wings picks, before flying back to Langley on Saturday night.
The Red Wings management told him he needs to keep hitting the weight room and work on getting bigger and stronger as he continues his development.
He will attend Detroit’s prospects camp, which begins next week (July 5) but will attend St. Cloud State in the fall.
– Ex Chief and current Providence Friar’s defenceman Vincent Desharnais heard his name called in the seventh round.
The big blueliner was selected 183rd overall by the Edmonton Oilers.