I know what you’re thinking. Why in the world would we bother dedicating an article to a deal that sent Steve Eminger to the Philadelphia Flyers? Believe me; I get it. However, sometimes it’s essential to revisit transactions to view what the Flyers gave up. Of course, whining about what could have been after you read is entirely acceptable and probably appropriate.
The Washington Capitals made Eminger a part of their organization taking him with the 12th-overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. The Woodbridge, Ontario native made a name for himself with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, making him a sought-after commodity come draft time. He made his debut for the Capitals in 2002, but only lasted 17 games. Eminger was then sent back to Kitchener where he helped the Rangers win the Memorial Cup.
The former first-round pick made his return to the National Hockey League the following season, playing 41 games for Washinton recording four points. Eminger was not living up to the high expectations bestowed upon him when he was drafted. He split time between the NHL and AHL and spent most of the final year of his contract as a healthy scratch. However, Eminger was provided a more significant role in the 2008 playoffs due to injury and demonstrated that he could be a solid defenseman for someone.
The Flyers felt that they could provide the young blueliner with a fresh start where he could finally live up to his potential. During the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Philadelphia agreed to send their first-round pick to Washington in exchange for Eminger and a third-round pick. With their newly acquired pick in the first round, the Capitals drafted an American-born defenseman by the name of John Carlson. As for the Flyers, they used their new third-round draft pick on goaltender Jacob De Serres.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how the deal panned out for the orange and black before we punish ourselves with talking about how good Carlson became. On June 29, 2008, the Flyers signed Eminger to a new one-year contract. Then, after playing in only 12 games, Philadelphia sent him to Tampa Bay, along with Steve Downie and a fourth-round pick, for defenseman Matt Carle and a third-round draft pick. As for De Serres, do not feel like a bad fan if you have never heard of him. He never made it to the big time of the NHL. In fact, he only tended net for one game in the American Hockey League for the Adirondack Flames.
Now, there is no telling whether Philadelphia would have selected Carlson if they kept the draft pick. However, Washington did, and boy did it work out fantastically. He is and top-notch blueliner who can do it all. The right-handed defenseman knows how to rack up the points and has the potential to pass the 60-point mark this season. Also, he can run a power play and be a capable contributor on the penalty kill, something that is viewed by all teams.
No professional sports franchise wins every deal they make. That is just the nature of the beast. However, the argument can indeed be made that the Flyers wish they could hit the rewind button on this particular trade. Even if Philadelphia did not decide to go with Carlson, there were still other players in that draft class that would have been a better option than Eminger. Unfortunately, there is no such rewind button (teams would pay a hefty price to get their hands on one of those), and this is just one of those deals where we look back a cringe a little.