Detroit Red Wings stock watch: Why Michael Rasmussen is rising, Dennis Cholowski falling

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings have one opponent this week: The Dallas Stars.

The former playoff rivals face one another four times, beginning Monday with a back-to-back in Dallas, then games Thursday and Saturday at Little Caesars Arena. The Stars, last season’s Stanley Cup runner-up, are trying to gain ground after dealing with postponements because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the weather. The Wings are trying toplay with energy and purpose after seeing their three-game winning streak snapped over the weekend.

The Wings are 1-2-1 in the season series.

“It’s going to be challenging,” captain Dylan Larkin said Saturday. “They are fighting for their lives. … They went to the Stanley Cup finals last year, they know playoff hockey. We have to come ready to play in Dallas. It’s going to be a physical game. It’s going to be playoff hockey. It’s going to be a great test for our team.”

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While Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks disappointed, the Wings are coming off a good week that saw them beat the Carolina Hurricanes and Blackhawks. One young player had a particularly good week, and he leads off this week’s stock watch.

Stock up

Michael Rasmussen

Rasmussen had a goal and two assists last week, tallying his second multipoint game of the season when he contributed two assists April 12 at the Hurricanes. (His first was Jan. 28 against the Stars). Rasmussen, a first-round pick in 2017, is noticeable every game for how he uses his big body to protect the puck, or drive to the net for a scoring opportunity. He led his team with six shots on net Saturday and nearly scored. He’s playing with so much confidence, and the improvement from even the start of the season is remarkable.

Jakub Vrana

What a debut for the trade-deadline acquisition: Out of the penalty box and straight up the ice for the winning goal. Vrana looks like he can be a good fit — he has won puck battles, and gone to hard areas. As his comfort level with new teammates grows, and as he finds chemistry on a new line, Vrana could be a bright spot over the final 10 games.

Troy Stecher

He recorded his first two-goal game of his career in Thursday’s 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks. Stecher’s first goal was a slap shot from the right circle; he said afterwards that nine times out of 10 that wouldn’t go in, but the aggression to take the shot is the big takeaway. He scored again when he finished a back-door pass from Danny DeKeyser. Stecher hasn’t had a great season — he was a healthy scratch in late March  — but this was a good week for him, and something to build on.

Danny DeKeyser

His pass to Stecher was perfectly timed, one of two assists DeKeyser earned over the past week. It’s been a tough season for the veteran defenseman, what with playing for the first time since undergoing back surgery in December 2019 and twice being placed on waivers. He brings a calmness to the lineup, and makes a good partner for young players – like Saturday, when he played with Gustav Lindstrom. DeKeyser has logged 37 games; three more, and he meets the requirements to be left unprotected in the Seattle expansion draft, which would help the Wings.

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Stock down

Dennis Cholowski

The first time the 2016 first-round pick was called up this season, he appeared in two games before being sent back down. He has been up again since April 10, with steadily growing minutes — and no points. Saturday, he played 21:19, and 5:14 of that was power-play time. That’s the area where Cholowski, 23, needs to make an impact if he’s to gain traction. He’s an NHL-caliber skater, but needs to be more assertive with the puck.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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