These three young Red Wings have distinguished themselves
Dennis Cholowski (left), Madison Bowey and Taro Hirose appear to have earned spots on the Red Wings’ season-opening roster.
Dennis Cholowski, Madison Bowey and Taro Hirose are the three players who have helped themselves the most during the Red Wings’ preseason.
All appear to have earned spots on the season-opening roster going into the final two preseason games versus the Toronto Maple Leafs at Little Caesars Arena Friday night and in Toronto on Saturday night.
Cholowski’s performance is the most surprising.
He was thought to be headed back to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League after finishing the 2018-19 season there. Surprisingly, he made the opening-night roster last fall and performed well for the first half of the season. But poor defensive play and turnovers led to his demotion after 52 games with Detroit.
This year the 21-year-old Cholowski has shown a marked improvement and could play in the third defensive pair. The top four is all but set with Danny DeKeyser, Filip Hronek, free agent signee Patrik Nemeth and Mike Green.
“I’ve got a year under my belt, and I feel a little more like I know what I’m doing,” Cholowski, the club’s top pick in 2016 (20th overall), told www.mlive.com. “Just the mental side of it mostly, coping with the fact I got sent down. I made mistakes and there were things they didn’t like in my game. So just kind of being mentally strong and having a good mind frame and going in every day to practice and working on those things.”
He had two assists and was plus-2 in the Red Wings’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night in the Kraft Hockeyville game in Calumet. And he’s been particularly impressive quarterbacking the power play. The fact that he is a left-handed shot works in his favor for making the team because Hronek and Green, who also trigger the power play, are both right-handed shots.
“I think Dennis has been sharp moving the puck),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think he’s been more physically engaged, I think he’s ended cycles better, I think he’s gapped (well). I think he’s had a really good start to his preseason. He’s spent a couple summers here really working. He’s put himself in good position after (three) games. Now you got to keep going.”
Bowey could be Cholowski’s defensive partner to start the season.
The 24-year-old was acquired in a deal that sent defenseman Nick Jensen to Washington Capitals close to the NHL trading deadline late last season.
Bowey was an offensive-minded defenseman in junior hockey and struggled to establish himself in the NHL with Washington. He has also concentrated on the defensive side of the game since becoming a Red Wing.
He had a goal and three assists and was plus-8 in four games going into the weekend.
He also worked on his skills during the offseason.
“That’s something I can kind of bring to the table when need be,” Bowey said. “I think my skating was a big thing going in (to the off-season), just my edge work at both ends of the ice. Also, my offensive-zone blue-line plays, just getting that confidence back that I had a few years ago.”
Bowey would also have to go through waivers before being sent to Grand Rapids.
Because of his ability to think the game and his playmaking, Hirose appears to have won a spot at left wing on the second line with Andreas Athanasiou and centered by either Valtteri Filppula or Frans Nielsen.
Hirose, 23 and 5-10 and 160 pounds, was impressive late last season after being signed as a free agent following his junior season at Michigan State. He had a goal and six assists in 10 games with the Wings in 2018-19, and has followed that up by producing a goal and five points in six preseason games.
“I think he gets exponentially better with better players because he’s got such a good hockey mind,” Blashill said.