Coming in at #43 is a kid who really ought to be on your radar, left-side defenseman Dennis Cholowski of the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League.
For raw physical stats, Cholowski is 6’2″, 170 lbs. As a beanpole, it will take him a few years to add the physical mass he’ll need at the NHL level. However, Cholowski is aware of his longer development path. He was drafted by the Prince George Cougars in the 2013 WHL entry draft, but chose to play for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL instead. By doing so, he preserved his NCAA eligibility and he’s declared his commitment to Saint Cloud State University.
Cholowski doesn’t have the size to make the jump to the NHL out of the draft, but his hockey sense and skills are NHL-caliber. He’s the kind of high-skill, puck-moving defenseman that teams want in today’s NHL. He has top-notch hockey sense, excellent vision, excellent decision-making, and excellent poise. His stick is active defensively, he has good gap control, has good positioning, and he makes a good first pass out of his own end.
If there are knocks on his game, it’s with his skating and shooting. Skating-wise, he doesn’t have top flight speed and it takes him about four steps to get to his top speed. However, he does have a good first step which helps him win races and battles for the puck. His shot windup is slow and long. He has a good release on his wrister, but doesn’t get a lot of power behind it. These are things that can be worked on, but they’re also the kinds of things that can keep a player out of the first round of a draft.
Early in the season, Cholowski projected as a fourth or fifth round pick. He moved up considerably over the course of the season, and currently projects to be a 2nd-pair defenseman in the style of Brian Rafalski. He won’t help a team immediately, but he’s the kind of long-term investment that should pay high dividends. The Bruins are drafting at pick #49 in the second round, so there’s a decent chance that Cholowski will be available. They should give him very strong consideration.