Islanders’ Dennis Cholowski hopes to win starting spot

Dennis Cholowski did not know Islanders basic supervisor Lou Lamoriello, however Lamoriello knew Cholowski. That, Cholowski joked Friday, was what helped lead him to the Islanders.

“I do not understand how or when,” the defenseman mentioned, “however I suppose once I was youthful, he knew me.”

A primary-round choose of the Red Wings six years in the past, Cholowski sat in a cramped stall inside a small locker room cordoned off by a curtain within the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. The Islanders — the large Islanders, that’s — do not use that room. It’s for the gamers on the rookie camp, solely a handful of whom have an opportunity of creating the opening-night roster. Cholowski, the one free agent Lamoriello signed this offseason, is among the many group with an opportunity.

This is the third franchise in a 12 months for the 24-year-old, who was taken within the enlargement draft by the Kraken, picked up off waivers by the Capitals, then waived once more and despatched again to Seattle. Through all of that, Cholowski performed extra video games for the AHL Charlotte Checkers, an affiliate shared by the Kraken and Panthers, than he did within the NHL.

After all that shuttling between the coasts, Cholowski spent the summer time in Minnesota, the place his fiancée’s household is positioned. Now, airline miles in tow, Cholowski is on Long Island.

He’s hoping this association, a two-year take care of $762,000 common annual worth on the NHL stage, might be extra everlasting. But the precarious nature of that hope is betrayed by a take a look at his contract, a two-way deal that lets the Islanders pay him a relatively paltry $200,000 to play for AHL Bridgeport this season ought to they so select.

Dennis Cholowski cut up time in Seattle and Detroit earlier than arriving in Long Island.
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

There is a spot to win within the NHL starting lineup, although, on the left aspect of the blue line, doubtless reverse Scott Mayfield on the third pair. Between Cholowski, Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho and even Grant Hutton, somebody will win that spot. Another participant will doubtless find yourself on the NHL roster as a wholesome scratch and two will begin the season within the AHL.

“That’s the purpose,” Cholowski mentioned. “Obviously I need to make it and play within the NHL. I’m gonna do my greatest to do this every single day.”

At this level in camp, with the crew principally engaged on energy skating and expertise, there’s little differentiation among the many group. Only three of the 4 are on the ice with the rookies, as Aho’s attendance will not be required till subsequent week, when the NHL roster opens camp. It is simply too early for spirits to be something however excessive. Cholowski, who has 30 factors in 115 profession NHL video games, spoke Friday of a renewed confidence regardless of a nomadic 12 months.

“I felt like final season, I actually kinda rounded my sport out right into a full defensive, offensive sport,” he mentioned. “Despite me transferring round quite a bit, I gained a variety of confidence. I be ok with my sport.

Cholowski has all the time been a succesful offensive contributor from the blue line, and people attributes can be welcome on an Islanders crew that struggled to transport the puck from one zone to the following final season. It’s the errors on protection which have harm Cholowski up to now. He was a mixed minus-46 over his first two NHL seasons with the Red Wings.

Beneath that, although, is a participant adequate to have been drafted within the first spherical not too way back.

“I believe he has a lot expertise, a lot promise,” Hutton, who performed towards Cholowski within the AHL playoffs final season, advised The Post. “I do know he is performed a variety of video games within the NHL already. He has a superb quantity of expertise.”

He additionally has a shot right here. And he is aware of it.

“I used to be glad when [the Islanders] reached out finally,” Cholowski mentioned. “Excited in regards to the alternative.”

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