Defenseman Alt has his eye on the big club

Posted: July 16, 2013

WHEN YOU THINK of the Flyers' young defense prospects, recent draft picks Sam Morin and Robert Hagg may be the first who come to mind. But before the two joined the Flyers, the team acquired Mark Alt from the Carolina Hurricanes.

In January, Alt was acquired along with goaltender Brian Boucher in a three-team trade with Carolina that sent minor league center Luke Pither to the Hurricanes. In the wake of the move, the 21-year-old decided to skip his senior season with the University of Minnesota to sign an entry-level contract with the Flyers. Alt spent the final 2 weeks of the season with the Adirondack Phantoms.

During the Phantoms' last six games, Alt scored one goal and added an assist to close out the 2013 campaign.

"I just got a good taste of professional hockey and it was good for me to see that especially going into this season," Alt said of his time with the Phantoms. "The game is different from college; it's a lot smarter hockey, it's a lot more talk and it was good for me to get a little feel of that last year."

Originally selected by the Hurricanes in the second round of the 2010 draft, Alt remained with the Gophers and continued to thrive defensively. The 6-4, 200-pounder helped Minnesota reach the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, which included a Frozen Four appearance in 2012.

"Well, first of all getting the education was a big part for me and my family and being under that coaching staff at Minnesota was great," said Alt, whose father John was a Pro Bowl tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs. "I didn't play much in high school so having that experience and playing with those players really helped a lot."

Alt focused on hockey through high school and received collegiate offers as early as his sophomore year. As a junior, Alt had to make a decision as his football career took off. In 2009, he was considered one of the top high school quarterback recruits in Minnesota and led his team to the state championship game.

"Later in my high school career, football kind of sprung up and I started getting offers for football, too," Alt said. "My senior year was a big year for me to make my choice, but in the end I knew I wanted to play hockey and I wanted to do what I liked to do. I absolutely made the right choice and being here and playing with these guys confirms that."

Alt finished his collegiate career with seven goals and 32 assists in 117 games. One part of his game that has been criticized by scouts is his lack of offense, as he was unable to find the back of the net in his final 39 college appearances. Regardless of his offensive ability, former Flyers defenseman and Phantoms assistant coach Kjell Samuelsson liked what he saw from Alt during his time in Glens Falls last season.

"He moves pretty well for a bigger-sized guy and he can move the puck, too," Samuelsson said. "He has a good shot and he is a good prospect."

Last week at the Flyers' development camp, Alt focused on improving his game and meeting his teammates. While he said the best attributes of his game are skating and his shot, Alt understands there is still a lot of room for improvement in every area.

"He looks like he's got a good skill package, he's light, good on his feet, good-sized guy and he has a chance to play in the NHL for sure," Flyers assistant general manager John Paddock said.

Alt likely will begin the upcoming season with the Phantoms, but is hoping to help the Flyers as soon as possible. While he has yet to play a professional game, Alt believes he can contribute to the Flyers defense this season.

"I hope for the best this year and hope to contribute as soon as possible," Alt said. "Last year was obviously a great feeling to come in and play for the Phantoms and even to get some experience practicing with the Flyers and I hope to help them as soon as possible."

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