For the first time in Oswego State history a member of the men’s ice hockey team has signed a professional contract with the National Hockey League (NHL).
Sophomore forward Eric Selleck signed a two-way, two-year contract with the Florida Panthers organization last Thursday, thus bringing his two year career with the Lakers to a close.
Selleck’s minor league contract with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (AHL) is reportedly worth $105,000, while Selleck’s contract with the Florida Panthers is reportedly worth $1.175 million.
"We support it," head coach Ed Gosek said. "I think it is the right decision for him. Timing is everything. As much as we hate to see him go, I do think it’s the right thing for him and we wish him the best of luck and hope it works out."
During the past two off-seasons, Selleck has been asked to participate in the Panthers’ development camps. Selleck was the only Division III player to take part in the development camps.
Randy Sexton, General Manager of the Florida Panthers, has known Selleck since his days playing for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the Central Junior "A" Hockey League (CJHL). Sexton’s son, Ben, competed against Selleck in the CJHL with the Nepean Raiders, allowing Sexton the opportunity to scout Selleck’s skills. Selleck was named the Lumber Kings Rookie of the Year during the 2005-06 season.
"[Selleck] was someone they had been watching, and speaking with their staff, they felt they needed to get some size up front and Eric fit that mold," Gosek said.
At 6’2" 210lbs, Selleck gives both the Panthers and Americans a physical presence in the line up. Selleck is known for his physical play, accumulating 137 penalty minutes in 53 games in the 2006-07 season and a team-leading 120 penalty minutes in 49 games in the 2007-08 season with the Lumber Kings. Upon arriving at Oswego State, Selleck accumulated 45 penalty minutes in 26 games in his freshman year and 48 penalty minutes in 28 games during his sophomore year.
"He is big, strong and works hard night in and night out," said Tyler Lyon, senior defenseman and captain of the hockey team.
Prior to signing the contract, Selleck hired a family adviser to help him with the terminology of the deal. Selleck hired Dan Fridgen of PuckAgency when it became clear that the Panthers organization was going to offer him a contract. PuckAgency is a global, full-service agency that has represented professional hockey players for over 35 years. The agency is the longest active company registered with the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA).
"It puts Oswego [State] on the map and lets every pro team know that there are good players here in D-III and we have a great organization," Selleck said.
Fridgen played collegiate hockey at Colgate University for four years before signing with the Hartford Whalers as a free agent. He played in 13 regular season games over two seasons before becoming the head coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where he is the all-time wins leader. By signing a family adviser, Selleck has lost the remaining two years of college eligibility.
"I’m going to miss the chemistry I had with the team and everybody I met here at Oswego [State]," Selleck said. "I made so many relationships and friends along the way and that’s what I’m going to miss most."
Aside from Fridgen, Selleck was also conversing with his former Lumber Kings coach, Sheldon Keefe, about his decision. Keefe has prior NHL experience, playing several seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Selleck had a breakout season with the Lakers this past season following his freshman year where he was naed SUNYAC Rookie of the Year, leading the team in goals (21) and points (56) in 28 games. Selleck’s 33 assists were tied for the team lead with junior forward Justin Fox. His performance on the ice earned Selleck the Herb Hammond Most Valuable Player, which is awarded to the best player in the SUNYAC. His best game of the season came on Jan. 22, 2010 against Buffalo State when Selleck netted two goals and added five assists in a 10-1 victory.
Selleck was also named to the 2010 RBK Hockey Division III All-American East First Team, becoming just the seventh Laker in program history to earn that honor. Most notably, Selleck finished runner-up for the 2010 Sid Watson Award, which is symbolic of the nation’s best Division III men’s hockey player.
There is a possibility that Selleck could see playing time with the Panthers next season, but will begin his professional career in the AHL with the Americans on the left wing. Selleck’s goals for next season include playing on the second or third line for the Americans. Playing for the Americans means that Selleck will be playing in downtown Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena, approximately 75 miles from the Campus Center Ice Arena.
"It’s always a reflection on how well you do as a team when one of your teammates moves on to even better things," Lyon said. "We are all proud to have played with him and wish him the best. He is a hard working player and he will be missed here at Oswego [State]."
Selleck becomes the second SUNYAC player in as many years to leave school for an attempt to play at the pro ranks. Last season, Plattsburgh goalie Brian Hince withdrew from the university to try and earn a roster spot with a professional team. Hince was unable to solidify a roster spot on either the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League or the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League (IHL).
"The difference between me and him is that he was trying to sign a contract and I have already signed a contract," Selleck said. "It’s in my hands to perform well at the next level and I’m prepared to do that."
Selleck’s departure from the team two years earlier than expected has put the Lakers in a tough position in terms of recruiting. The team is looking to recruit a player that brings the same emotion to the team for next year.
"We’re happy for him, but obviously at this point in the recruiting process there’s been a lot of very good players that we’ve told no to because we just haven’t had room," Gosek said.
Gosek said that he has had to call back a number of recruits that he had originally turned away to see if they are still interested in joining the program. At the same time, Gosek said that many players interested in playing at Oswego State have interests from other schools and luring them back could prove difficult.
"We’re not just going to bring in another player to bring in another player," Gosek said. "We’re here to bring in the right type of players. If we can get a player that we feel fills that need that Eric brought us then so be it."
Selleck finishes his two-year career at Oswego State with 80 points on 34 goals and 46 assists in 75 career games. He plans to finish the rest of the academic year before attending summer camps held by the Panthers. Selleck will continue to improve his conditioning over the summer before donning the red, white and blue of the Americans in hopes of one day donning the red, blue and gold of the Panthers.