Steve Eminger says he found his identity as a player two months ago in the five games he played for the Washington Capitals against the Flyers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
In the process, he made a lasting impression on his new employer.
"That definitely didn't hurt my cause," Eminger said yesterday on a conference call. The Flyers "saw me five games. . . . I thought I had a pretty good series against them."
The Flyers traded their first-round pick (No. 27) of Friday's draft for Eminger - a 24-year-old defenseman who tallied two points and a minus-4 rating in 20 regular-season games - and a third-round pick that was later used to take goalie Jacob DeSerres.
The Flyers made defense a priority in the draft, selecting two defensemen and two goalies. But Eminger is an acquisition the Flyers expect to utilize right away despite a poor 2007-08 season.
Eminger scored his first goal in 15 months during Game 4 against the Flyers and was plus-2 in five playoff games.
That, he said, was a huge step in developing confidence at the end of a "difficult, frustrating year."
"There were not a lot of answers," Eminger said. "They just weren't playing me. Nothing was really said to me. It was pretty tough. A fresh start was what I was looking for. I know I still have a lot to give."
In five seasons, Eminger, the 12th overall pick in 2002, played for three different coaches in Washington, all of whom sent "mixed signals," he said. The second, Glen Hanlon, wanted Eminger to be an offensive defenseman.
"That wasn't really me," Eminger said.
In 212 career games, the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Eminger has six goals and 37 assists.