Christoff Sedoff is all business.
You can usually get a polite smile from the 17-year-old Red Deer Rebels defenceman, but beyond that, it’s all business.
Part of that is his Finnish charm and part, is just his personality. After all, the blueliner left his home country of Finland, to pursue his hockey dream in a foreign land.
It’s a path that has been carved by several impact NHL defencemen from his homeland, including Olli Maatta, Julius Honka and Henri Jokiharju. While those players are higher profile than Sedoff is at this point and time, they were once just like him, coming to a different country to play for a team they didn’t know much about, on a different ice surface than they’re used to and in a league that’s unfamiliar.
But ever the businessman, Sedoff came prepared for the test and hasn’t been phased by any of those life changes.
“Things are going very good so far, (transitioning) to the small rink and adjusting to the lifestyle has been very good,” said Sedoff, who was selected 17th overall by the Rebels in the 2019 CHL Import Draft.
“It’s been easy adjusting to the smaller ice and the language.”
The business-like approach from the six-foot-one, 189-pound defenceman was recognized immediately by Rebels assistant coach Brad Flynn, who works with the Rebels defence.
Flynn noted that Sedoff has displayed some of those intangibles, like hockey IQ and work ethic, since day one.
“What I’ve noticed about him from the beginning of the year is he’s a student of the game. He’s extremely intelligent and very self-aware. He’s his biggest critic,” Flynn said.
“He’s a perfectionist… he’s done a remarkable job in my opinion in understanding the way we play in North America and his adjustment to the North American game has been very good.”
That work ethic, combined with a growing sense of confidence and comfortability in the Rebels’ system, has helped him rocket up draft boards, with some experts projecting him to be picked anywhere from 60th overall to 100th in the 2020 NHL Draft.
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Recently, he was even invited to the CHL/ NHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton, a contest reserved for the top 40 prospects for the June draft.
Sedoff said it was a special honour to be selected and what really stood out was the high skill level of all those who played.
“It was a good experience, very good players, playing against the best across the CHL,” said Sedoff, who played for Team White in a 5-3 victory.
“It was more the skill level, not really the speed.”
In his time as a Rebel, he has both earned and been given more responsibility as the season has progressed. With the trade of captain Dawson Barteaux, he was essentially thrust into a role as the Rebels top blueliner, playing power play and penalty kill, as well as drawing the defensive assignment against the opponents’ top players. That’s really where Flynn thinks he can shine.
“The long-term projection for a player like Christoffer Sedoff is a to be a 3-4 defenceman in the NHL that’s a strong puck mover, hard defending guy,” Flynn said.
“He’s a strong skater. powerful. He fits the mold of a guy that can jump up and give you enough offensive that moves the attack. And he’ll give you solid shutout minutes in prime opportunities.”
Sedoff is also contributing offensively, with 15 points through 43 games. That has him fifth among WHL rookie defenceman. Flynn thinks there might be more on that side in the final 25 games, too.
“In the second half, I expect to see more of his natural ability come out, where it’s less thinking and more playing because now he’s used to it. Not only our team, but our fans are going to see the really Christoffer Sedoff who just plays and doesn’t overthink,” Flynn added.
While the long-term projection is a second-pair defenceman on an NHL roster, that’s a long way from Sedoff’s mind. He’s not worried about draft stock of June, but being in the here and now, winning games with the Rebels, doing his job like only he knows how.
The Rebels take on the Calgary Hitmen for a home-and-home series this weekend, hosting the Hitmen Saturday then traveling to Calgary Sunday.