Jeff Halpern Agrees to One-Year Deal With The Rangers
The New York Rangers announced Monday night that they had reached an agreement with free agent center Jeff Halpern on a one-year contract worth $700,000.
Halpern spent last season with the Capitals, appearing in 69 regular season games, scoring four goals and tallying 12 assists. He played in just two playoff games for the Caps, as then coach Dale Hunter preferred Jay Beagle as the fourth line center.
The biggest facet of Halpern’s game is his ability to win face-offs. Even as a fourth-line center getting limited minutes, Halpern was second on the Caps in face-off wins with 365 during the 2011-12 season. Only Brooks Laich had more wins with 664. Halpern’s face-off win percentage was 58.45%, compared to Laich’s 47.6%. Newly acquired center-man Mike Ribeiro is expected to fill in on the second line, but his face-off numbers pale in comparison to Halpern’s (341 wins, 42.2%).
Halpern was asked to take key face-offs in the defensive zone and also was a reliable veteran figure in the Caps locker-room. He may not fill up the score sheet every night, but Halpern is a smart hockey player that makes key contributions in areas that are sometimes overlooked. It remains to be seen how new Caps coach Adam Oates and General Manager George McPhee plan on replacing Halpern’s ability in the face-off circle.