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Interview with "The Fourth Periods' Dustin Leed, Philadelphia Correspondent

When you want the best insight into a teams OHL prospects, you go to the best you can find. It didn't take me long but I found him. Dustin Leed, Philadelphia Correspondent to The Fourth Period. He was frantically tweeting away during the Flyers prospect camp where current and former OHLers are having a go at trying to make the Philly Roster and Dustin was in the middle of the action. I do have to say, he didn't really catch my attention until the Zac Rinaldo tweets started to occur. Interesting insight to Rinaldo now that he is a full season removed from the OHL after his 'controversial' ending in the league. Has Rinaldo turned the corner in his career? will Jason Akeson light it up like he did in Kitchener? What really happened to OHL Alums Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to earn them a one way ticket out of town? Well I asked Dustin and here is his response:

Brandon Sudeyko: First of all Dustin, let me thank you for sharing your professional opinion with me and the OHL fans out there. I know a lot of them like and hate this time of year because it is a long time until meaningful hockey, but you do get to see the young guns of the game at these camps and relieve some hockey withdrawal. first of all, heading into a pro camp, infront of the brass that drafted or invited these kids, what do you believe the Philidelphia Flyers are looking for in these players?
Dustin Leed: I've always been told by players that developmental camp is for the guys to learn as much as they can from the hands on approach by the coaching staff at these camps and there isn't much competition at them. So I think the Flyers evaluate who's got some of the better skill at these camps - no one is trying to earn a roster spot at these camps but they're still trying to impress and show their development as a player.

BS: Just to go backwards a bit, before looking completely forward. Richards and Carter. they still have deep roots to the Kitchener Ranger and Soo Greyhounds fans respectfully, and many are still scratching their head as to why. many theories out there, which one do you subscribe to?

DL: I think the Richards and Carter deals helped this organization out as a whole. They got a lot younger, got some prospects back in their system and were able to get some guys who fit Peter Laviolette's high octane system very well. These deals allowed them to get bigger on the wing and bring in some true right wing position players and also give a bigger role to James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux. Also, there has been a lot made of off-ice issues between the two and that may had something to do with it, but the Flyers will tell you it didn't.

BS: Historically, and by that I mean since 2003, the Flyers are near the bottom of the league, in terms of drafting from the OHL, is there a possible theory as to why? when it appears the 29 other teams in the NHL will take at least 1 per draft.

DL: They have some real good connections in the QMJHL and some of the best scouts in that league, so I think that is where they're most comfortable drafting out of. I think another reason why they're near the bottom is because the OHL talent in draft classes is usually at the top and the Flyers are generally picking later in the rounds. Also, they haven't had too many first round picks since 2003.

BS: 9 players since 2003 drafted to the Flyers, with ties to the OHL (Pat Maroon drafted out of USHL, played in London once drafted). Three out of the 2011 draft and only 2 other players still in the PHI organization at some level (Eric Wellwood & Zac Rinaldo). Any rhyme or reason as to why they just do not work out?

DL: No real answer as to why they don't pan out other than I think they could use some better scouting of the OHL. Perhaps that's why they don't make many draft selections.

BS: Looking at the 3 players from the OHL, just drafted, Nick Cousins (SSM), Colin Sullentrop (OSH) and Derek Mathers (PBO) what do these guys have, that could keep them in the good graces of the Flyers organization?

DL:Nick Cousins was the most impressive at camp. He is still pretty raw but definitely played with smarts and some aggression. He had a good shot and could skate pretty well. I think Colin Suellentrop was impressive for a stay-at-home defenseman as well. He was very sound positionally and seemed to have some mobility for a tough, physical d-man. Derek Mathers is a great team guy and will never back down from a challenge. He's got some skills, too, and plays a smart game. All of these guys are tough and gritty and that's what the Flyers love.

BS: What about the likes of Jason Akeson, I mentioned how Mike Richards still holds a spot in Rangers fans hearts, and for the last 4 years, Akeson has done the same. Many would love to see him work his magic on the big stage, is that a possibility for him this upcoming season?

DL: Jason Akeson will be in the American Hockey League this coming season which will be a good fit for him. He's uber-skilled but he must get stronger. He's done growing but he can still add on some muscle in a professional organization. He's got great hands, good instincts, but for his age, he needs to get stronger. Once he makes it to Adirondack, anything is possible, but I think there are a handful of players with a better shot to see the Flyers this season.

BS: I don't think even I can put this nicely as to the point of not offending. Since camp opened you have been a supporter of the "NEW" Zac Rinaldo. The same Zac Rinaldo who has had multiple suspensions not only at the OHL level, but at the AHL level this year as well. I can put him into the same boat as Steve Downie once was, a hot head with some good talent that if his head was on straight would be one of those great 'Avery-like' players. Hate to play against him, but love to have him on my team. I promise I will get to the Question soon, After the last two seasons that he had, is this truly a new Zac Rinaldo, or is this just a kid who realizes his window is getting smaller?

DL: Haha. Love the Zac Rinaldo questions. I've talked to numerous people in the Flyers organization including Peter Laviolette and all of these guys rave about Rinaldo. His role is an agitator, and there is no confusing that, but he has skill to go with it. He can skate, has good hands, he just has to learn that he is a better player than what he think he is. He will be a Flyer some point soon, the orgnaization is very high on him. Here's what Flyers director of hockey operation Chris Pryor told me : "He can play the game more than people give him credit for. I think if people take a step back and actually see him play. He can do that, which tells you about the kid."

BS: A follow up on the Rinaldo question being, should the gen public, the flyers fans and what ever Rinaldo OHL Fans still exist give him this opportunity of change, or should we be cautious and play wait and see. referencing Downie again, once he was in Tampa, a different player showed up and he is as effective as everyone thought he could.

DL: Give Rinaldo a chance. He's been working on his skill. He isn't going to change the player he is, but wait to judge him under Peter Laviolette.

BS: Final one for you, if you could make a depth chart based on OHL prospect talent in camp, what would it look like? (Akeson, Brown, Cousins, Mathers, Pither, Rinaldo, Wellwood, Hostetter, Sullentrop) (side bar: looking at talent no older than a '90 birthday)

DL: Rinaldo, Wellwood, Hostetter, Akeson, Pither, Cousins, Suellentrop, Mathers, Brown.

Like I said, when you want the best insight on a rookie camp, you have to go to the best. Dustin Leed can be reached by his twitter account (@D_LEED) and you can find more of his work on The Fourth Period under the Philadelphia Flyers section. Thanks again to Dustin for contributing your time and opinions.

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