Detroit — It took most of Wednesday to find out, but the hockey world finally learned who the Red Wings lost in the NHL Expansion Draft.
The fledgling Seattle Kraken picked defenseman Dennis Cholowski, a Vancouver native who returns to play in the Pacific Northwest.
The move was announced on the ESPN2 national broadcast of the expansion draft, which lacked any sort of drama, as selections were leaked earlier in the day.
The picks slipped out from most teams — Vegas was exempt, having joined the league in 2017 — save from the Red Wings, as general manager Steve Yzerman and his staff contained information from being made public.
Word of Cholowski being Seattle’s choice drifted early the evening, but it wasn’t until the Kraken announced the pick of Cholowski that Wings fans — and the rest of the NHL — knew definitively.
Cholowski, 23, was a 2016 first-round pick who was never able to secure a spot in the Wings’ lineup.
In his first two professional seasons, Cholowski began with the Wings directly out of training camp. But defensive issues, along with an inability to spark the power play and inconsistent offense, forced the Wings to send Cholowski to minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids, where he enjoyed only marginal success.
Cholowski spent 16 games with the Wings this season, with one goal and two assists. In 13 games with the Griffins, Cholowski had three goals and seven assists.
For his Wings career, Cholowski played 104 games, collecting 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) and a minus-47 rating. Cholowski was expected to get another extended look to start this season, since he is out options and would have been exposed to waivers had he not been on the opening night roster.
The Red Wings were expected to place Cholowski on the protected list, but the acquisition of defenseman Nick Leddy last week likely forced the Wings to choose between defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and Cholowski to protect.
The Wings traded down in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to acquire Cholowski.
When Pavel Datsyuk announced he was returning to Russia with one year left on his contract ($7.5 million cap hit), then general manager Ken Holland sent Datsyuk’s contract to Arizona, while switching first-round picks with the Coyotes (Arizona leaped to 16th, the Wings fell to 20th). Arizona also gave the Wings a second-round pick that year.
The second-round pick turned out to be Filip Hronek, currently among the Wings’ leading defensemen.
Cholowski never found consistency with the Wings, although a fresh start in Seattle could be a tonic that serves him well.
He will be joining a Kraken roster that has a mix of youth and experience.
Playing with Cholowski on defense will be Mark Giordano (Calgary), Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas) and Adam Larsson (Edmonton).
Notable forwards the Kraken plucked include: Yannie Gourde (Tampa), Jordan Eberle (New York Islanders),Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville), Jared McCann (Toronto), Michigan State’s Mason Appleton (Winnipeg) and goalie Chris Driedger (Florida).
Cholowski was chosen by Seattle over Wings such as defensemen Troy Stecher and Danny DeKeyser, and forwards Vladislav Namestnikov, Frans Nielsen and Evgeny Svechnikov.
The Wings’ list of protected players included fforwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana, Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Michael Rasmussen and Givani Smith, defensemen Hronek, Leddy, Lindstrom and goaltender Thomas Greiss.