The Flyers made pitches to acquire marquee defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Pronger.
They settled for a pugnacious left winger and a minor-league defenseman.
In separate deals at yesterday's trade deadline, the Flyers acquired Daniel Carcillo from Phoenix and Kyle McLaren, who had been playing in the AHL, from San Jose.
The Flyers, trading speed for toughness - and freeing some much-needed space under the salary cap - dealt popular left winger Scottie Upshall and a second-round draft pick in 2011 for Carcillo, a 5-foot-11, 202-pound left winger who has a league-high 174 penalty minutes.
"Daniel Carcillo is a good hockey player who happens to be tough," general manager Paul Holmgren said at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. "Fans will love him."
But the Flyers failed to land a player to upgrade their defense.
"It's not at all disappointing," Holmgren insisted. "I've been saying all year I like our team."
In a conference call with reporters, Carcillo said he was excited to join the Flyers. "I grew up loving to watch the team play just because of how they played - and how rough and aggressive they were," he said. "They were definitely my favorite team as a child growing up, so it's kind of surreal and kind of a dream come true to put on their uniform."
Carcillo, 24, who is signed through the end of next season, had three goals and seven assists and was a minus-13 this season. Upshall, 25, had seven goals and 14 assists and was a plus-5.
"Having to give up Scottie to make our salary cap work a little better hurts a little bit," Holmgren said. He added that it was "absolutely" difficult to deal Upshall. "I get emotional when I have to talk to a player in that situation."
Carcillo makes $850,000 ($884,000 against the cap), so the deal gives the Flyers a little financial breathing room because Upshall, an unrestricted free agent after the season, was making $1.2 million.
The extra cap space will prevent the Flyers from having to send rookie Claude Giroux down to the AHL Phantoms, as they did for one game when they needed to trim salary.
Holmgren said the Flyers had $900,000 of space under the $56.7 million salary cap, which would give them flexibility if a player is injured and they have to recall someone from the Phantoms.
According to Holmgren, the Flyers never got close to acquiring Bouwmeester or Pronger.
"We explored it, but in the end it was probably too much" to give, said Holmgren, who acknowledged that goalie Marty Biron was mentioned by other teams in trade talks.
Both of the defensemen remained with their teams, Bouwmeester with Florida, Pronger with Anaheim.
Earlier this season, Carcillo was suspended for two games for coming off the bench and fighting Chicago's Ben Eager. He has been involved in 18 fights, which is tied with the Flyers' Riley Cote for second in the NHL.
Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky criticized Carcillo for taking "selfish" penalties.
"He needs to be a hockey player first, and that's what we'll address," Holmgren said, adding that coach John Stevens planned to pick up Carcillo at the airport last night and talk things over with the winger. "He's a good player and a little overexuberant at times, and you have to rein him in a little."
Carcillo said he was more disciplined than last year, his first full season, when he accumulated a league-high 324 penalty minutes.
"I've come a long way since my first year. I was kind of reckless out there and wanted to get my name out there in what I can do," he said. "I feel I'm a lot more disciplined this year. It's always something I'm going to have to work on - just being able to play between the whistles and not letting the team down with any dumb penalties."
Holmgren shot down speculation that the deal would cost Cote a roster spot.
Being traded was "definitely disappointing," Upshall said. "I sat around this morning and thought I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but Philadelphia after today."
But while getting a haircut in Old City in the afternoon, he received phone calls from reporters, telling him he was traded.
"It was tough to take," Upshall said, "but I realize it's part of the game. I'll move on to a new team and a new city and approach it the same way I did when I got to Philadelphia."
In another move, the Flyers acquired defenseman McLaren, 31, for a sixth-round draft selection this year.
McLaren, a 6-4, 230-pounder, had no goals and six assists in 17 games with the AHL's Worcester Sharks this season.
McLaren, Boston's first-round draft pick in 1995, will spend the rest of the regular season with the Phantoms, Holmgren said. He gives the Flyers depth in case of injuries.
In 719 career NHL games with Boston and San Jose, McLaren has 207 points and is a plus-27.