Philadelphia Flyers: First-Round Dumpster Diving

RonnybrookCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2009

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Unless you're a hardcore NHL draft junkie, it's understandable if you had no idea who Lukas Kaspar, Krys Kolanos, and Jason Ward were as the Flyers announced their additions to the 2009-2010 NHL roster a few weeks back.

Kaspar and Kolanos are first-round draft busts, cast-offs from San Jose (no. 22 overall, 2004) and Phoenix (no. 19 overall, 2000), respectively.

While Jason Ward has spent time as a NHL regular in Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay, his contributions have mostly come as a grinder, miles away from the expectations that came along with being selected 11th overall by Montreal in the 1997 NHL Draft.

Dumpster diving for NHL first-round busts in need of a "change of scenery" is nothing new for Philadelphia, although I cannot remember the last occasion where the Flyers scooped up so many of them at at the same time.

So, can any of these turds be polished into a 20-goal scorer or, at the least, a solid NHL contributor? Only time will tell, but the Flyers recent track record with disappointing former first-rounders doesn't inspire confidence.

Let's have a look at Philadelphia's most recent trips to the dumpster and see how they fared.

Steve Eminger

With the exception of a rugged, eye-opening performance against Philadelphia in the first round of the 2007-2008 NHL playoffs, Eminger had failed to live up to expectations as the rough-and-tumble defenseman the Capitals projected him to develop into when Washington selected him 12th overall in the 2002 NHL draft.

Prior to his trade to Philadelphia in exchange for the Flyers 2008 first-round selection (no. 27 overall, John Carlson), Eminger was a healthy scratch for 62 regular season games in his final season with the Capitals, before injuries to Washington's blueline corps dictated Eminger's inclusion into the Capitals lineup for a first round match-up against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Capitals went on to lose the series against the Flyers, but Eminger's solid play in the series was enough to catch the attention of Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren, which facilitated the draft day trade that brought him to Philadelphia for all of 12 games.

As the Flyers stumbled through the start of their 2008-2009 season, Eminger was shipped to Tampa Bay (along with Steve Downie and a 2009 fourth-round pick) in exchange for Matt Carle.

Eminger has played for four teams in the last calendar year, and as of this writing, remains an unrestricted free agent.

Scottie Upshall

In his time with Nashville, Upshall (no. 6 overall, 2002) spent much of his early career with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, cracking the Predators starting lineup just 72 times in the four seasons prior to the trade that brought him to Philadelphia for another former sixth overall selection: Peter Forsberg (Philadelphia, 1991).

Considering his draft position, Upshall's pedestrian offensive production (46 g, 60 a) as an NHL regular with Nashville, Philadelphia, and Phoenix have been underwhelming, to say the least.

Upshall was shipped from Philadelphia to Phoenix prior to the 2009 trade deadline for pugilist Daniel Carcillo, in a move to avoid Upshall's anticipated increased salary demands as his upcoming restricted free agency period approached.

Upshall signed a one-year deal with Phoenix this summer, which will pay him $1.5 million, far short of the $2.75 million deal he had sought.

Upshall's career high as a goal scorer is 15 goals.


Nolan Baumgartner

Baumgartner arrived in Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2007, playing six games with the Flyers before being shuttled across the parking lot to finish out his one-season stay in Philadelphia with the Phantoms of the AHL.

As the 10th overall selection in the 1994 NHL draft (Washington), Baumgartner's fate will forever be intertwined with the Philadelphia Flyers, as he was selected with the 1994 draft selection previously sent to Quebec in the blockbuster deal that brought Eric Lindros to Philadelphia.


Eric Chouinard

Acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2003 second round pick (no. 61 overall, Maxim Lapierre), Chouinard skated 48 uninspiring games in a black-and-orange sweater, and has taken exactly one regular NHL shift since 2005 (his last in the NHL, with the Flyers).

Pavel Brendl

Selected by the New York Rangers with the fourth overall selection in the 1999 NHL draft, Brendl never went on to bigger things in the NHL.

Brendl arrived in Philadelphia as part of the 2001 trade package that sent Eric Lindros to the the New York Rangers in exchange for Kim Johnsson, Jan Hlavak, and Brendl, along with the Rangers 2003 third-round draft selection (no. 81 overall, Stefan Ruzicka).


Kolanos, Kaspar, and Ward

All three are decent performers at the AHL level, providing the Flyers with solid fourth-line depth.

But the acquisition of these players is most likely a move to bolster the Flyers' AHL affiliate, providing the farm team with players that can help with the development of forward prospects such as James Van Riemsdyk and Patrick Maroon.

The saying goes: one person's trash is another person's treasure.

But with with the Flyers lack of success transforming the first-round disappointments of other NHL teams, Philadelphia has yet to emerge from the dumpster with a keeper.

For Ronny's daily hockey thoughts, visit the Ronnybrook blog.