CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- It might not qualify as high praise, but for Florida Panthers prospect Eric Selleck, Kevin Dineen's words after Tuesday's practice at Saveology.com Iceplex had to resonate.
"I think," the first-year Panthers coach said, "Eric's done a good job of showing that he's not just a strictly one-dimensional player."
With Dale Tallon's vision, one-dimensional, at least when it comes to the role of enforcer, seemingly is a one-way ticket out of town. The days of Paul Laus and Peter Worrell are gone. You won't even find a Darcy Hordichuk in these parts anymore.
That means for Selleck, a 6-foot-2, 208-pound left wing, last season's 214 penalty minutes and 28 fights for Rochester in the American Hockey League only count for so much.
"I want 20 guys to support each other and play hard," Tallon said of moving past the notion of the need for an enforcer. "For me, it's more about taking a hit to make a play or giving a hit to make a play and protecting each other. You're only as strong as the whole. If that guy can play, that's different. But just to have one around? Not likely."
Not only not likely, but not practical for the vision Dineen has for this season's roster.
"For me, I just find roster spots are really, really tough to get right now," he said. "The pace that we want to play at, we're going to need to be able to roll four lines and have four lines going.
"I'm always a big fan and believer that your team needs to stick up for each other, so one goes and everybody will go. Obviously, we do not have someone who's designated solely in that role."
But that's not to say there isn't a place for grit, which is why hope remains for an unlikely rise that saw Selleck playing just two years ago for Division III Oswego State in New York. His early goal in Monday's 4-3 preseason victory over Nashville was a reminder of versatility beyond the fists, fists that later flew in a second-period fight against the Predators' Michael Latta.
"You just can't be a tough guy," said the 23-year-old Ontario native, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010. "You've got to be able to skate and play the game. I think I can do that. I know, obviously, they're looking for some toughness here. I was a tough guy last year, so I'm going to continue my role and just see how far I can go."
It is a role that includes more substance than style.
"I like to finish every check and go from there," he said. "I know I've got to grind it out, like I got the goal (Monday) night, just banging away in front. Those are the goals I'm going to get."
As for an NHL roster spot after just one pro season? Well, he at least has his coach's attention.
"He's a big body, but he can move, he can skate, he can get his feet going," Dineen said, "and he can move out there and show some intelligence out there and some battle, not just in a scrap."