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by Anthony SanFilippo / Philadelphia Flyers

There’s been a lot of talk this summer about the Flyers dedication of focusing so many draft picks in recent seasons on defense.

In 2012, the third round choice of Shayne Gostisbehere is now being heralded as an excellent pick at that point in the draft. The Flyers are also getting credit for making value choices in Cornell University defenseman Reece Willcox in the fifth round and Russian Valeri Vasiliev in the seventh round.

Then, of course, there’s been a lot of hub-bub about the 2013 draft that saw the Flyers select four defenseman – the oft-talked about Samuel Morin in Round 1; the selecting of what many believed to be a first round talent in Robert Hagg in round two, and selecting a pair of high schoolers in the later rounds in Terrance Amorosa (fifth round) and David Drake (seventh round) in hopes that they blossom in a more long-range plan.

And despite all the talk about these young defensive prospects, one name continues to be forgotten.

“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of writers reach out to me to try to set up an interview only to have them not call me,” said Mark Alt. “I’m used to being forgotten about publicly by now.”

It’s probably because Alt wasn’t a Flyers draft pick. It’s probably because he was the “thank you gift” from Carolina in January when the Flyers agreed to take Brian Boucher off the Hurricanes’ hands and save their new division rival from having to pay some unwanted salary.

Alt is a right-handed defenseman who has flown beneath the radar a bit publicly in conversation about Flyers defensive prospects.

Whatever the reason, Alt hasn’t really been talked about.

Google his name and the Flyers and you’ll find one mainstream media story from earlier this summer, and a few quick-hitter blog references, but nothing of real substance about Alt, who, by the way, was drafted higher in the draft (2010 second round, No 53 overall) than every Flyers defensive prospect except Morin and Hagg.

And yet, he’s an unknown.

Alt is out to change that. After giving up his final year of collegiate eligibility to sign with the Flyers, Alt felt it was important to show his face around Flyers Skate Zone as often as he could to show how committed he was to making it to the next level.

“I just felt that with everything that happened to me in the past year – getting traded to the Flyers and then getting a chance to play a little last season with the [Adirondack] Phantoms, I just felt that if I was going to get serious and do this the right way that I should come out here, show my face, do the work and get the instruction that I have – especially in training with [assistant strength and conditioning coach Ryan Podell] and getting more used to how things are done on the professional side of things.

“If I didn’t do this and stuck to the same college routine, I didn’t thin it would benefit me in the right way to prepare for the upcoming season. I wanted to be around the pros and work and train with them to get a leg up on the season.”

Alt rented a house this summer with fellow Flyers prospects Scott Laughton, Nick Cousins and Derek Mathers. It’s not the first summer that a small group of guys stuck around for a summer either hoping to make an impression.

He’s not the first to give it a shot either. Other players have done this in the past as part of Paul Holmgren’s general manager regime and other players have eventually found the success necessary to make it to the NHL quickly.

Guys like Andreas Nodl, James van Riemsdyk, Zac Rinaldo and Tye McGinn in recent years have given up their summers at home with family and friends to train in Philadelphia and have seen it pay off.

“It’s been a really good experience overall,” Alt said. “Getting to know the staff and the guys who have been coming in periodically throughout the summer has been good for me. Especially seeing how they train and seeing how dedicated they are in the summer has been really beneficial to me.

“Getting out here and getting familiar with the Philadelphia area and getting away from the whole college scene has been good for me too.”

Alt , 21, has been faced with tough decisions - like the one to leave college behind early – many times in his young life, but has always leaned on his dad – former Pro Bowl NFL lineman John Alt – for advice.

“I’m very fortunate in that way to have him there as someone who went through it,” Mark Alt said of his dad. “Even if it’s a different sport, it still seems to be the same sort of dynamics… He played in the NFL for 13 years, so he’s a great resource for me to have. And, the fact that he’s my dad too, he’s always going to be honest with me. He’s been there for me my whole life, but ever since I made this step to becoming a pro, he’s meant even more to me because he’s someone I can lean on with any question I might have.”

Dad supported him as a two-sport star at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Alt was also the starting quarterback for the football team and in 2009 guided his team to the Minnesota state championship game.

Alt wants to make sure the Flyers remember more than just his face after training camp next month.

He was receiving college offers for both hockey and football. He could have followed in his dad’s footsteps and played football at the University of Iowa. Instead, he chose hockey, and went to one of dad’s rival schools – the University of Minnesota, where, in 2012, he was part of the Gophers team that reached the Frozen Four.

“I always felt I was more passionate about hockey because it was something I just did on my own,” Alt said. “Football was expected of me because my dad played football, but I fell in love with hockey at a very young age and even though that’s not what everyone wanted me to do, that was what made me happiest. It all sort of fell into place for me from there.

“Hockey was my calling. Where I’m at now, it’s reassured me that I made the right decision.”

Alt has spent the summer working on being patient with the puck at the point and being more sound with his decision-making, as well as footwork and speed and preparing for what will be his first professional training camp in a few weeks.

“I already have the nerves going a little bit because it’s my first pro camp, but I’m also pretty confident going into it too because of the work I did this summer,” Alt said. “ Another reason I’m glad I came here this summer is I was able to get used to the facilities and get to know the guys a little bit, so I won’t be going into camp with my eyes too wide open. I’ll be more ready for an intense camp like that.”

Alt added that he has no expectations for the season aside from expecting himself to perform at his best as often as he can.

“I’m going to put in the time and do the work and just let the chips fall where they do,” said Alt, who is likely ticketed for the Phantoms for the start of the season. “I definitely have expectations as to where I want to be in a couple seasons, but that’s a little far out of my reach right now, so at this point I’ll see where things end up and take it from there.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

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