The Athletic’s Max Bultman posted an excellent article this morning, discussing Michael Rasmussen and Dennis Cholowski’s respectively lengthy paths toward gainful NHL employment via a longer developmental curve with the Grand Rapids Griffins (who open their regular season tonight vs. the Chicago Wolves at 8 PM EST):
On Oct. 4, 2018, Dennis Cholowski and Michael Rasmussen made their NHL debuts together in a Red Wings overtime loss to Columbus. It was opening night, and Detroit’s 2016 and 2017 first-round picks had made their way into the lineup. Cholowski even scored Detroit’s first goal, the start of a torrid month to begin his pro career.
At the time, it looked like it could be the start of Detroit’s next generation. All this rebuilding? Simple enough.
As it turned out, not so much. Two seasons later, both Rasmussen and Cholowski will be in the opening-night lineup together again, this time for AHL Grand Rapids, which begins play Friday against the Chicago Wolves.
It’s certainly a striking difference from that NHL opener in 2018, albeit not an inexplicable one. Rasmussen, Detroit coach Jeff Blashill freely admits, would have been better served in the AHL that year, had it been allowed by the NHL-CHL agreement. Accordingly, Rasmussen went on to spend his entire 2019-20 season in Grand Rapids. For Cholowski, meanwhile, his eye-catching start in 2018 cooled off after that first month, and the team’s discomfort with his defensive game eventually landed him in Grand Rapids, too. Then it happened again in 2019-20, despite breaking camp with the Red Wings again.
And now, both former first-rounders are facing the same question as the Griffins’ season gets set to begin: What will it take to make it back?