Sedoff's Return a Massive Boost for Rebels Blueline
Christoffer Sedoff was dealt a double disappointment last year.
The Finnish defenceman was passed over in the NHL entry draft despite being ranked by Central Scouting, and was then unable to rejoin the Red Deer Rebels due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he put the negative events - including a second NHL draft snub in July - behind him and is now back with the Rebels in another bid to showcase his talents to NHL scouts and secure a pro contract in North America.
"I was very disappointed," he said Wednesday, regarding the circumstances that prevented him from playing a second WHL season with the Rebels.
"It was hard early in the season because you didn't know if you're going to come here or not. It was hard to find a place to play after that."
Sedoff, who arrived in Red Deer Tuesday, played in three leagues in his home country last season. He started with the HIFK under-20 team, then graduated to FPS of the second-tier pro league and closed out the season with Saimaan Pallo of the Finnish Elite League.
He recorded two assists in six games with the U20 squad, picked up a single helper in seven games with FPS and collected two assists in 26 games with the top-tier professional team.
Playing with and against seasoned pros was an eye-opener for the 19-year-old.
"It was really nice seeing the pros and how they like work every day and get better every day and their competitiveness," he said. "It was very nice."
The experience also forced Sedoff to bring his physicality each and every game.
"The guys are much bigger, stronger. You have to be much harder in the corners and in front of the net," he said.
Sedoff scored four goals and accumulated 19 points in 61 games with the Rebels in 2019-20, his rookie WHL campaign.
Now he's back and is a virtual shoo-in to play top-pairing minutes on the Red Deer blueline during the upcoming season.
"I'm very happy to be back," he said with a genuine grin. "Everybody was very excited to see me and I was also. It was nice to see the new faces and the old faces also.
"I hope I'm in a big role here. I want to help the team win games and show the younger guys the way to play."
While he wasn't around for the abbreviated 2021 season in which Red Deer recorded only four wins in 23 games, Sedoff - based on the team's strong finish in early May, the fact the returning players are a year older and the addition of new faces - is convinced the Rebels will be much more competitive in '21-22.
"I think we have a very good team and a very good chance to be like a top team in the league this year," he said.
"We have older guys and experience on this team now. Once we get the small things together we are going to be a very good team."
As much as anything, Sedoff is looking forward to playing in what will hopefully be a normal season, at least in comparison to last year.
"It will be good also that the fans are in the building," he said.
Sedoff's return will give the Rebels a boost in various areas, including the power play.
"He's really going to help our back end," said fourth-year assistant coach Ryan Colville. "He brings energy and hard work. Obviously he's been here so we know exactly what we're getting.
"Now that he's a couple of years older than when he was here the last time, he's going to be a good influence on a lot of our younger guys."
Sedoff's time with Saimaan Pallo had to help him grow as a player, Colville noted.
"Playing in one of the best leagues in the world, for him to come back here after that experience . . . we just think back to when he was 17, he was a really good player. Now he's 19 and has a year of pro in him.
'We're really excited to have him back with us."
Meanwhile, Rebels associate GM Shaun Sutter is still working on getting Czech forward Frantisek Formanek, selected in this year's CHL import draft, to Red Deer.
"It's a work in progress and we just have to be patient," said Sutter, without delving into details.
The Rebels play their second preseason game Friday at the Peavey Mart Centrium against the Calgary Hitmen.
Red Deer visits the Hitmen Saturday, then wraps up exhibition play with a home-and-home series with the Lethbridge Hurricanes the following weekend.
The Rebels open the WHL regular season Oct. 1 in Edmonton before hosting the Oil Kings in a rematch the following evening.
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