TRAVERSE CITY, MI. - When defenseman Dennis Cholowski was drafted in the first round by the Red Wings (20th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, he was unaware his name would forever be linked to defenseman Jakob Chychrun, his fellow first-round pick.
Chychrun was taken by Arizona with the 16th overall pick in 2016 and played in 68 games for the Coyotes last season, scoring seven goals along with 13 assists for 20 points. He was also a minus-14, but for an 18-year-old rookie, his stat line was impressive.
Arizona drafted Chychrun with a pick that originally belonged to the Wings. Detroit traded the pick away along with Pavel Datsyuk's contract because the Red Wings needed to free up cap space.
While Cholowski was playing in college at St. Cloud State and Chychrun was in the NHL, many observers began to question Cholowski's game compared to Chychrun's, assuming the Wings would have taken Chychrun if the deal wasn't made.
Cholowski acknowledges the comparisons between him and Chychrun, but he knows there isn't anything he can do except refine his game.
"I just need to control what I can control," Cholowski said. "My goal is to play in the NHL, so I need to continue to progress in the areas the Wings have stressed, which is getting bigger, stronger and increasing my numbers offensively.
"Being linked to Chychrun is something I really don't think about. As long as I stick to what I need to do to become a Red Wing, it will all work itself out."
Since he was drafted by Detroit, Cholowski has put on close to 20 pounds of pure muscle without losing a step on the ice. He is a good skater with the ability to move the puck up the ice.
He is encouraged about his game from where it was a year ago.
"I want to make a pro team," said Cholowski, who left college after a year to sign with the Wings. "Of course I want to play in Detroit. Grand Rapids would be nice, too, but if I end up playing for Prince George (in the WHL), I believe the experience will benefit my overall game."
Detroit's prospects have dropped their first two games of the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, losing 6-2 to Carolina last Friday and 4-3 to Chicago last Saturday.
Cholowski and his mates get another shot at the win column Monday night when they take on the New York Rangers prospects at Centre Ice Arena.
"Personally, I've played pretty well, especially the second game," Cholowski said. "The first game was good, but I amped it up in the second game. I have been pretty happy with the way I've played.
"Obviously, we haven't been as well as would have liked, but today we'll step it up. We haven't played poorly, we have had our opportunities, but the puck hasn't bounced our way.
"We're still upbeat, but it would be nice to get a win, especially since we're the home team."
RASMUSSEN IMPROVING EACH GAME: It has been a whirlwind ride for Michael Rasmussen since the Red Wings drafted him with the ninth overall pick in June's NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.
In early July, he was up in Traverse City for Detroit's development camp, he played for Team Canada in the World Junior Summer Showcase in late July. In early August, he signed his three-year entry level contract with the Wings and he's now back in Traverse City for the prospect tournament and Red Wings training camp.
It may sound like a lot for an 18-year-old to digest, but Rasmussen is wise beyond his years. He is also relieved to be competing on the ice.
Since last February, Rasmussen has seen very limited action due to a broken wrist. He didn't participate in the Wings scrimmage during development camp and he played in only one game for Team Canada in the Summer Showcase.
The prospect tournament is the most action he's seen in nearly six months. But, despite not competing for close to half a year, Rasmussen doesn't believe there will be a learning curve to elevate his game back to where it was before his injury.
"Not too much for me," Rasmussen responded when asked if he's playing catch-up since he's missed so much time. "I just go back to the basics, hard work and compete.
"Hockey is hockey, whether it's here or anywhere else. So, for me, I put my head down and work hard."
After playing in Detroit first two games, he is pleased with the way his wrist has responded, but he's not happy with the Wings prospects being winless.
"I feel good, my wrist is feeling good, I feel good overall; it's good to be here with these guys," Rasmussen said. "We wanted to get some wins there, but we're going to ready tonight (Monday).
"We want to represent the Wings well, we want to win. There is definitely pressure, we're just going to go out there and compete hard."
As much as he enjoys playing with his contemporaries in the prospect tournament, Rasmussen is really looking forward to Wings training camp.
"I want to see what it's like to play against those guys (the Red Wings players) and to play with them," Rasmussen said. "I am really excited.
"All summer I have been skating with pro AHL and NHL guys. I know how fast they are and how strong they are. I am just excited to compete with them."